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I should be doing a New Comics Day rundown, but I got behind and, well, what can you do? So instead, here’s something we were chatting about at the shop…comic book “Easter eggs.”
One of the more famous ones is the message Barry Windsor-Smith snuck into issue #8 of Conan the Barbarian (August 1971). Here’s the panel in question:
And here it is, nice ‘n’ big:
Given the number of panels in this issue filled with piles of coins, you could hardly blame the guy.
Now the Overstreet price guide always lists Ka-zar #1 (Aug. 1970) as a “hidden profanity cover,” and, if you sorta squint at Zabu’s back, by the tree, you see this:
Actually, blowing it up to that size obscures the naughtiness…it looks more like the word in question at its normal size.
The cover for the 1988 Spectre annual by Art Adams is filled with hidden cross-company characters, such as the Thing (along with other Fantastic Four members):
…and the Marvel version of Hercules:
…the Creature from the Black Lagoon (cleverly drawn to look as if he were wearing a collared shirt):
…Wolverine (along with several other X-people):
…and none other than the famous Sam & Max, Freelance Police:
And pal Kevin pointed this out to us at the shop, from the cover of U.S. 1 #4 (Aug. 1983) by Michael Golden…a little chicken man among the other chickens, by the UPC code box:
I think it’s just a generic chicken guy in glasses, while Kevin is convinced it’s Super-Chicken in his civilian identity of Henry Cabot Henhaus III:
(Image from Dave’s Un-Official Super-Chicken Page…auto-playing sound at link.)
There are plenty more comic book Easter eggs, hidden messages and the like, out there in the wild, but these are just a few that came to mind right away. Well, there are also the hidden messages in many issues of the Marvel/Epic run of Groo the Wanderer (which usually read “this is the hidden message” — one of these even made it to the Groo poster release at the time).
Any other funnybook “hidden messages” that you can think of? Leave ‘em in the comments, if you’d like.
EDIT: I can’t believe I forgot this, from Saga of the Swamp Thing #19 (Dec. ’83)…in this panel of Un-Men drawn by Steve Bissette and John Totleben:
…you can see Gumby, Spider-Man, and what appears to be E.T.:
…and the green guy above E.T. looks familiar, too, but I can’t quite place him.
Lots of good Easter eggs in the comments section…some I remembered, some I didn’t. Please feel free to keep adding to the list!
Wendy gets an idea punched directly into her head, from issue #50 of Spooky Spooktown (Aug. 1973):
As a former librarian, I was a little amused by this: someone having taped their own library book pocket into the inside front cover of Flintstones
#36 (March ’75):
Here’s what it looks like on the other side of the cover:
why tape and comics don’t mix.
FARK runs charming headline re: the passing of Dave Cockrum
, FARKites wage war
over appropriateness of said headline.
Found on the eBay…a Nancy & Sluggo puzzle set:
From this auction
. More Nancy ‘n’ Sluggo fun here
Also found on the eBay: pin-up art of Christina Aguilera in the slave bikini outfit that Princess Leia was wearing in Return of the Jedi. Now that’s a specific interest.
So I found this CD at my local book/music/coffee shop yesterday:
…and quite frankly, it surprised the heck out of me. Steve Martin’s three records from the ’70s were reissued fairly early in the CD era, but this fourth album from ’81, the least popular and the most critically slammed, was seemingly forgotten. Half of it featured Martin’s stand-up act, the other half his banjo playing, and it was pretty unlikely that anyone saw a potential CD release as anything but a hard sell.
Whenever the primary delivery system for recordings shift from one format to another (in this case, from LPs/cassettes to CDs), there are always a few things that slip through the cracks, never to be seen again. I assumed The Steve Martin Brothers was going to be one of these forgotten relics, lost to history.
So imagine my surprise, flipping through the comedy CD section and suddenly coming across this album. Really, it was the last thing I’d expected to see.
The Steve Martin Brothers got lucky…some small label somewhere managed to talk Warner Bros. into leasing the rights to this album to them so they could get it out there for poor saps like me who had a Steve Martin Brothers-shaped hole in their collections.
But how many more recordings are out there are long forgotten, buried in the archives of a monolithic entertainment corporation, or lacking in any ownership to provide for their caretaking? How many of those recordings exist only in formats that are incompatible with modern technology, where the tech required to play them are becoming, more and more, expensive specialty items?
And all this thinking, as per usual, leads me to the comics industry.
The analogy isn’t exact, I know. But I got to wondering about all the work produced over the decades’ long history of the comics industry, and how so much of it now is forgotten, unread save by a few hundred (or certainly in some cases, a few dozen) collectors, if it’s remembered at all.
In the cases of Marvel and DC, chances are at least fair-to-middlin’ that some of their more popular older material will get reprinted, what with the Essentials and the Showcases and the Masterworks and the Archives. Even Archie has some reprints of their own older material, in their digests and the occasional softcover.
But for the off-brand stuff? Not so much of a chance…it makes me sad to think that some cartoonist, long ago, worked hard on his Spunky the Monkey strip to get it in before the deadline, saw it go into print once, and then it was consigned to the dustbin of history as the disposable entertainment it was.
Like I said, there are collectors still looking for this stuff, but where obsolete recording formats have expensive specialty equipment standing in their way, old comic books have 1) relative scarcity and 2) generally higher “collectors” prices blocking new readership for old stories.
This is just me being all weepy about old comics and the creators who put so much work into them (okay, to be fair, some put a little more work into ‘em than others), only to see their hard work presented to the public once, then tossed aside, forgotten. I realize that the alternative is that everything ever published stays in print and available forever, which is of course not a realistic option. But I’d hoped that at least, say, Scribbly and Herbie (just to pick two examples) would have seen some kind of extensive reprinting by now. There’s always the digital option, I suppose, with online archives (legal and otherwise) of comics that are otherwise unavailable.
I’ve covered this topic before, I realize, but I got to thinking about all that lost work and I had to get it off my chest yet again, so thank you for indulging me.
So, in honor of the reissue of The Steve Martin Brothers, the CD I never expected to see, and to end this post on a more “up” note, I want to ask you folks: What comic book reprint/reissue surprised you the most? What funnybook stuff did you expect would never see the light of day again, and yet…one day, there it was, on a bookshelf right in front of you, large as life.
It’s hard for me to choose one, but I think maybe DC’s Showcase Presents Haunted Tank is right up there. What’s your pick?
Jughead #327 (February 1983) – art by Stan Goldberg
Now you’d think with “Punk vs. Funk” on the cover, it’d be Jughead fighting George Clinton
, but no, it’s the Riverdale gang’s encounter with punk rock culture. It begins in the school newspaper’s office, as Archie is complaining to Betty about punk fashions.
“Some of the punk hairdos are becoming,” says Betty, looking out the window at a couple punk-types. Stick-in-the-mud Archie disagrees: “Yeah, they’re becoming, all right — they’re becoming utterly revolting!”
One of the punkers overhears Archie’s comment, and responds:
Archie is stunned, stunned
, I tell you:
Archie is convinced that Jughead needs saving from the pervasive evil of the punk lifestyle, and dashes out of the editorial offices to catch him. Along the way, Archie runs into Veronica, who is also concerned with Jughead’s recent personality change. “Betty acts as though it weren’t important,” Archie tells her. “Maybe the punk movement is getting to her, too,” responds Veronica. OH NO IT’S CATCHING.
And it’s not bad enough that Jughead is a punker, but Jug’s pal Hot Dog is in on it as well:
Archie and Veronica confront Jug directly, only to find that the change is even more extensive than they feared:
Jug..er, “Captain Thrash,” his unnamed girlfriend, and Hot Dog (new punk name: “Vicious”) brush off Arch and Ronnie, as they announce their intentions to head to Dingy’s for some grub. “‘Dingy’s!’ That’s the notorious punk hangout!” exclaims Archie, who decides to pay this clearly dangerous and disreputable den of sin a visit.
As it turns out, Dingy’s is just an open-air hot dog/burger stand, which you can tell is dangerous and “punk” because there’s a little pool of spilled liquid on the counter. Archie asks the proprietor, presumably “Dingy” himself, if he’d seen “Captain Thrash,” who directs Arch to “Club Chaos” just across the street. “You better not go over there looking like that, Jack — or you’ll be sorry!” warns Dingy.
There’s never been a warning that Archie hasn’t ignored, and he finds himself facing an unspeakable tableau of social decay and teenage rebellion:
He’s introduced to slamdancing, which in this panel is being demonstrated by people apparently in their 40s:
Even after having the dance explained to him, just a panel or two later Archie misinterprets events in the mosh pit:
Archie tries to tackle the guy, but before the subsequent kicking of Archie’s ass can begin, Jughead personally steps in:
…and throws Arch out of the club. Jughead wants nothing more to do with him: “I’ve got new friends! We share the same beliefs and goals! So leave me alone!”
Defeated, Archie believes his friend is lost to him forever. But the next day at school, he witnesses a horrifying sight in the paper’s office:
Archie and Veronica bust in, ready to save Betty from being punkified, but Betty has a surprise for them:
Sacrifices were made:
But Jughead’s time in the punk rock world has left him sympathetic to their plight:
And apparently their quest to give punk rockers a more positive attitude was successful, since Riverdale has been mostly cleansed of punker influence ever since. Well, there was that brief period when Jughead was a skate-punk:
…but that may be a story for another time.
READ MORE ABOUT IT: The Onion’s AV Club looks at Archie Comics’ other attempts to address popular culture, including a brief look at the same story I just related above (which features another great panel from the story).
Dave Cockrum, co-creator of the modern version of the X-Men (and the creator of Nightcrawler) has passed away. Tom Spurgeon has an informative tribute to the man’s life and work.
Here’s another for the “this is a fetish for someone” file:
Oh, this is so
At the store, I read through our preview copy of Onslaught Reborn
, due this coming Wednesday. And all I can say is…why does Marvel Comics hate my eyes?
Okay, my smart-assery aside, Rob Liefeld does seem like a nice guy, and he was enough of a sport to make a video diary entry addressing his infamous Captain America pic. But all that congenial self-criticism over his own drawing doesn’t mean a darn thing when a glance through Onslaught Reborn shows that nothing has apparently been learned.
I don’t like saying this. I don’t like being yet another person piling on Rob Liefeld, but honestly, this comic is pretty rough going.
I will say two positive things, so I feel less like a jerk: one, this comic will probably sell relatively well, since Liefeld can still move Marvel publications — so, you know, what do I know; and two, the splash page made me laugh, as Liefeld and writer Jeph Loeb succinctly sum up the recent House of M/The 198 Big Event brouhaha with one big ‘n’ dopey full page drawing.
Mike (seeing customer he hasn’t seen in a while and has shopped at the store since childhood): “Oh, hey…good to see you again! So, visiting for the holidays? Are you going to school out of town now?”
Customer: “I am visiting for Thanksgiving, but I’ve been out of school for a couple years now.”
Mike: (drops dead of old age)
In case you haven’t seen enough of Harvey Comics over the last week or so at this here site, please enjoy my contribution to Yet Another Comics Blog’s ongoing Monkey Covers shenanigans
Comico Comics promo poster (1986) – art by Ken Steacy
This came packaged with the Comico Collection
, a black slipcase with silver foil imprinting, which included a copy of Grendel: Devil’s Vagary
, a new Hunter Rose story by Matt Wagner which everyone wanted, along with several overstock Comico comics, which no one wanted.
Here’s a look at the foil design:
In my copy of the slipcase, I store the aforementioned Devil’s Vagary
and the first twelve issues of this Grendel series
. Hey, it looks pretty neat on the shelf…what can I say?
Our new comics day was pretty busy, thanks to everyone trying to get in before the Thanksgiving holiday…however, the dreaded “Black Friday” will probably not be too big of a deal for us. My experience is that the big “Black Friday” sales that you’ve been hearing about on the news are more for malls and “big box” stores like Walmart and Best Buy. Small businesses, at least in our area, don’t get that bump in business until later in the shopping season, after customers are tired of dealing with crowded malls and work their way outward into the outlying areas, desperately seeking out present ideas.
So, no, I’m not expecting this Friday to be any busier than normal. (And yes, in the past we’ve tried to attract business with special post-Thanksgiving sales and special deals, but no dice.) Ah, well, that’s okay…I’ve got store stuff to catch up on from not being open on Thursday.
Anyway, from New Comics Day this week…there’s this one customer, and I swear to God this happens every week, who picks up his weekly books, flips through them on his way to the register, and makes sure to point out to me (for example) “Hey, did you see that [shocking revelation from the end of the story] happened in this issue?” This is sometimes accompanied by his waving the page in question in front of my face. And I always respond to him in the same way: “No, I haven’t read that issue yet.” And he did it to me again this week. I need to start hiding in the back room when he comes in.
As for a couple of the comics themselves:
Planetary Brigade Origins #1 – as the title implies, it’s the “origin” of the Planetary Brigade superteam, told in the typical light and witty style of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, accompanied this time by artist Julia Bax. Like its parent title, Hero Squared, this comic cleverly and gently skewers (with love, not contempt) the cliches typical of the superhero genre, while not letting the satire overwhelm the actual superhero adventure. It’s a tough balancing act, but one Giffen and DeMatteis have mastered and is always a pleasure to read.
Enigma Cipher #1 – fast-moving action/suspense, as students from a college class studying a WWII-era Enigma coded message suddenly start turning up dead, and one last student struggles to stay one step ahead of her pursuers. It’s a plot-type that should be familiar to anyone who’s ever seen an action movie (the “we must get the disk” plot, I like to call it, after some computer espionage flick I saw years ago), but Andrew Cosby, Michael Alan Nelson, and Greg Scott do a good job keeping up interest in the story and maintaining reader sympathy for the student-on-the-run.
JSA Classified #19 – takes the classic “organ-harvesting” urban myth, and applies it to superheroes. Again, we’ve seen the “stolen body parts of superheroes” thing before, but not quite to this extent, and not with that urban myth aspect, which, I think, is quite clever. And on top of that, they managed to find some use for a couple of those “Bloodlines” characters that have been floating around for a while. I should note that I read the heavily-medical aspects of this story wondering what our resident medical comics weblogger Polite Scott would have to say about some of the details of this story. In fact, I now think that when I read any comic stories involving medical issues. See what the comicsweblogosphere has done to me?
In other news:
- Mark Evanier has the sad news that comics historian Jerry Bails has died. In fact, just calling him a “comics historian” doesn’t do him justice…that we have any history of the medium is thanks primarily to the inspiration of Mr. Bails’ early fandom efforts. Please read Mr. Evanier’s post for more details on this man…and like he says, we’re sure to see an issue or three of Roy Thomas’ Alter Ego magazine devoted to Bails’ life. (A friend of mine was in contact with Mr. Bails a couple years back, and at the time I had spent a lot of money obtaining one of Bails’ old fanzines…when my friend related the amount I spent on these three mimeographed pages to Mr. Bails, he was…well, either amused or bemused, one of the two!)
- Augie De Blieck, in his column this week, wonders why there aren’t more books on comics culture from fandom folks…and points out my site, along with the great and powerful Dave’s Long Box, as prime contenders for translation from web-to-paper. Thanks, Augie! And, hey, any publishers out there…I’m game if you are! (I sort of touched on this a while back, as I lamented the ephemeral nature of my site. Someday, once I load up on the necessary amount ink, I’m going to print out a copy of my site, just so there’s at least one physical copy of it in existence!)
- Apparently there’s a Kirby “meme” going around (which started here) in which you pick which character had the best Kirby design. Jon tagged me, and, alas, I must duplicate the answer of the person who tagged Jon – the ever-lovin’, blue-eyed Thing is my favorite Kirby design. Monstrous yet sympathetic, terrible but lovable, tragic and funny…Kirby never topped this design for sheer versatility. For more of my thoughts on the character, I refer you to what I wrote for Comic Book Galaxy a while back.
- Tim O’Neil does what I wanted to do with one of the pictures from yesterday’s End of Civilization post, but didn’t have time. Well done, sir, well done.
So, happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Americans, happy Thursday to everyone else, and let’s dig right into a tasty plateful of fine products as seen in the new Diamond Previews catalog (Dec. 2006). (If you want to see previous installments of “The End of Civilization,” I finally put the links in the sidebar, instead of dumping them in this post.)
p. 52 – Hot Stuff merchandise:
Hot Stuff, once a popular Harvey Comics character, now primarily exists only as tchotchkes and gewgaws. I wonder how many years away we are from, say, Spider-Man and Batman existing only as merchandise, their comic book origins long forgotten? (They’re pretty close to it as it is, frankly.)
p. 71 – All-New Atom #8:
No pic, because I want you to go to pal Dorian’s post on the matter (about halfway down the page). Basically, unless there’s some minor editing or careful placement of cover blurbs, we’re getting a penis (or, at least, a cross-section of same) on a DC comic cover.
p. 124-125 – DC Minimates:
Green Arrow makes out okay:
Power Girl…mmmm, not so much:
And Blue Beetle’s little plastic bubble eyes disturb me:
p. 127 – Women of the DC Universe Big Barda Bust:
The mature adult Mikester thought about passing on yet another obvious joke, but the 12-year-old Mikester can’t help but snicker at “‘Big Barda Bust,’ tee hee.” So there it is, for the rest of you 12-year-olds out there.
p. 272 – Superman “Lucky 21″ Starter Set:
“This collection contains a random selection of signed and unsigned comic books, plus two (2) randomly chosen signed DC Comics! For the full-time collector – or for anyone who wants to dive right in and immerse themselves in the world of comic books – this collection is for you!”
“Here are a bunch of overstock comics we got stuck with, and the only way we can get rid of them is by blowing them out in ‘mystery packs,’ because if you knew what you were actually getting, there’s no way you’d drop twenty bones on it.”
p. 398 – Punisher “Eroded Pride” T-Shirt:
p. 410 – Gwar Action Figures:
If these figures don’t spit out blood and, um, other bodily fluids, as Gwar
themselves have been known to do during their calm and demure live shows, then I’m going to be terribly disappointed.
p. 410 – H.P. Lovecraft’s Series 1 Previews Exclusive Black Cthulhu Action Figures:
“Who’s the black Great Old One
That’s a death machine to all the chicks?
You’re damned right….”
p. 422 – Tonner Harry Potter Collector Dolls:
“…All dolls have hand-painted face details (including Harry’s scar) and wear a white shirt and tie underneath a custom knit sweater with flannel pants, all under the school robe with school crest decal. They also each come with a wand, socks, shoes, and custom stand.”
For some reason, Harry Potter dolls with (presumably) removable clothes make me nervous.
p. 436 – Star Trek The Original Series – “City on the Edge of Forever” 40th Anniversary Statue:
And now, the Greatest Star Trek Statue Ever:
If that photo of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy is removable, this could double as a Guardian of Forever photo frame. For extra nerdy Trek fun, replace that photo with one of Harlan Ellison
p. 439 – Witchblade Anime “Masane Amaha” PVC Statue:
“Masane Amaha is the lead character (and blade-wielder) of Witchblade, an anime series based on the famous American comics series. Instead of a straight adaptation of the original series, the Japanese producers decided to create an entirely new scenario, with all new characters and situations.”
Hmmm…I can’t say that it’s entirely new:
Seems like it has pretty much the same raison d’etre
p. 458 – Betty Boop T-Shirt w/Bobble Head Set:
Looks like they finally found a way to move all those shelf-warming bobble heads…in case you can’t read the package, it’s the shirt that’s being sold, with the bobble head as a “free” bonus. (There’s a Family Guy
set like this later in the catalogue.)
p. 462 – Marvel Heroes & Villains Jumbo Plushes:
I was going to make a comment about the cute, plushy mass-murdering Venom doll, but then I read the solicitation info:
“If you like to do things big, then that includes your assemble [sic] of friends. You don’t let in just anybody to your private party. He or she that enters the room has a VIP pass. Only the big boys and girls are allowed through the gate, and that includes these big Marvel heroes!”
That’s a rich fantasy life going on there.
p. 466 – 300 Prop Replicas:
Pictured: the Spartan Helmet. Also pictured: one happy guy modeling the helmet.
p. 472 – Almighty Heroes Pre-school Action Figures:
“This first assortment of Almighty Heroes pre-school action figures features a quartet of the Bible’s greatest heroes – David, Moses, Noah and Samson – all redesigned to look like modern action heroes!”
You know, I don’t think I really pictured Noah looking like that. Moses, yes, but not Noah.
Marvel Previews, p. 21 (among others) – Black Panther #25:
Okay, I can understand not wanting to spoil secret details for forthcoming storylines, and I suppose with the info we’re given (creative teams, the cover) and the info we already have (our cycle sheets with past sales performance), we can still plan our orders accordingly. But, still, this is just a tad annoying.
Marvel Previews, p. 36 – Immortal Iron Fist #1 Director’s Cut:
Hey, nice of Marvel to announce this item ahead of the release of the regular edition of Immortal Iron Fist
. Now all you folks know you can pass on the regular edition when it comes out, and save your money for the Director’s Cut with the extra material. Thanks, Marvel!
“Giving Batman a superpower”
“Okay, here’s the drill: DC comes to you and says, ‘We’re giving Batman ONE superpower. No whining, it’s a done deal. He’s going to be a meta-human from now on. But it’s up to YOU to decide which power he gets. Choose.’ Which power should he have?”
“The power to read minds so he knows which criminals are guilty.”
“…Batman’s intelligence already is practically a superpower. He’s much smarter than is possible for any non-fictional real world person. His other superpower is his endless supply of money. Batman has already spent more money on his war on crime than Bill Gates will ever have over the course of his entire life.”
“He wouldn’t age. Not immortal — he could still be killed by gunshots, etc., but he wouldn’t age. Same thing Wonder Woman has going on.”
“I’d say f*ck you and your stupid ideas Didio. I’m gone.”
“Immortality. That way we can put an end to using BATMAN as an example of why the “Legacy” heroes don’t work.”
This one is my favorite:
“I have toyed with a story line where Prof. Strange transplants a metagene in Batman. When the gene activates, Bruce generates a glowing field of white light. It isn’t bright enough to really be useful, and it would be intanglable, offering no protection. It would set just above any covering, so he could never cover it up. Imagine the problems it would give him. He wouldn’t be able to be Batman or Bruce. This would put him on a quest for a ‘cure’ that would take him to Lex Luthor, STAR LABS, Dr. Midnite, etc. Eventually, he would be cured, but it would make for a fun story arc.”
“ATTN: any bloggers who have ongoing fights with eachother”
He means “message boarders” when he says “bloggers,” but you’ll get the idea:
“i havent been on these boards in a while, and while i love discussing comics and reading other fans opinions, all id found all night was people arguing with eachother all over these boards. under any topic about absolutely anything. basically i was already getting sick and tired of reading comments from guys who cant get laid for $h!t and are so ridiculed in their daily lives by there peers they vent frustrations at eachother from the safety of their own homes behind alias’s and their computer screens.
whether you like wally, barry, jay or bart, we all love comic books. they are fantacy stories…. who the hell cares about numbers and sales. you are all so boring. if you dont like a title, fine! if youd like, discuss, but do so in a civilized manner. clearly you all have tough times socializing that you spend so much energy attacking eachother here. some people just like to be miserable. clearly most of you do too, otherwise youd be blogging under forums for titles you DO enjoy.
its very sad that some people here are so chronically miserable that they have found a way to complain about a HOBBY! reading comic books isnt a job aand it isnt a responsibility. it is out collective hobby that we choose to spend our hard earned money on. if you all hate it so much, perhaps you should collect baseball cards or something instead.
please dont respond to this with arguments back to me explaining why im wrong and you, in your pimply faced virgin glory, are right. in case your retarded, im clearly not interested in reading your responses. if anyone agrees, feel free to holla back and we can discuss are love for comics in our own blogs elsewhere on these boards.”
“Batgirl is dumb”
“Batgirl is dumb”
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