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from a coverless Felix the Cat comic, circa 1950
Kokey had one issue of his own comic in the U.S. in 1952, and also had an ongoing series in Australia (a sample of which you can see here). A quick Googling reveals a handful of mentions of Kokey in articles about Australian comics, so maybe he’s not totally forgotten (like, say, Spunky the Monkey).
- All hail the mighty Neilalien, who just celebrated seven years of comic book weblogging. We are all but humble followers in his giant footsteps.
- Spencer at Of Course, Yeah has announced the winners of the Do-It-Yourself “Get Your Civil War On” contest. Very funny stuff…almost justifies the existence of the Civil War crossover in the first place. Almost. (Related: newspaper columnist mistakenly believes Civil War has something to say about real-world events.)
- Pal Dorian let his kid brother Andy take over the site again in order to espouse his views on funnybooks. I can think of a few message boards where Andy would fit right in. (Special bonus, probably just for the day: the one animated GIF you’d least expect to see on Dor’s site. And no, I’m not talking about the eagle one.)
- In response to my post yesterday, commenter Chad asked the following question: “How is it that the Swamp Thing mythos appeals to you so much?” And that is a good question, one that probably deserves more of an answer than just one entry in a list of bullet-pointed links. I’ve been thinking about how to answer that for most of the past day, and I don’t know that I’m any closer to a reasonable response now than I was before.
The simple answer is that the Swamp Thing comics have had the good fortune to have a series of imaginative and talented creative teams over the years, starting with the character’s creators (Len Wein & Bernie Wrightson), and continuing with such talents as Nestor Redondo, Tom Yeates, Marty Pasko, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, Alan Moore, Rick Veitch, Nancy A. Collins, Mark Millar, and many, many more.
As to what specifically about the character appeals to me…I think the complexity of the character’s situation struck more of a chord with me than the typical superhero books I was reading as a kid. Swamp Thing wasn’t a superhero who reveled in his powers and ran around fighting bad guys. He was a character who was inherently tragic; trapped in a monstrous body, seeking a cure for the condition which gave him his special abilities…and he ran around fighting bad guys, admittedly, but that level of tragedy gave the character a sympathetic, emotional hook that drew me in more than the comparatively simplistic “guys in tights punching each other” stories.
On a related note, as I was thinking about this question I thought about the fact that the very first issue of Swamp Thing I ever read was the issue where they began to futz with the concept (under “May 12”). I wonder if that has something to do with my inability to get too worked up whenever Marvel or DC does something drastically different (or drastically stupid) to one of their properties. I mean, my introduction to my favorite comic book character was when they took what was special about him, and began the thankfully-aborted attempt to turn him into a full-on superhero. After that, killing off Sue Dibny or giving Spider-Man a new bad costume…eh, no big whoop.
- I hadn’t noticed until the webmaster pointed it out in the comments…but the Roots of the Swamp Thing site has a nice banner pointing back to my weblog. Hey, thanks! (And I’ll get back to you on that Sunderland/Firestorm connection you’re asking about in your sidebar, there.) Go check it out, and dig the comprehensive timeline (which includes references to an unpublished story pitched by Bissette!).
- “THE INCREDIBLE HULK 3-D PAINTED Bowling Pin MARVEL”
“THIS IS A 3-D AIRBRUSHED PIN OF THE HULK,THE FIST IS HAND SCULPTURED AND CAREFULLY BONDED WITH PIN ,,,THIS IS A ONE OF A KIND ITEM!!!!!”
So I’ve covered a couple dropped plot points in Swamp Thing over the last year or two. There was that long-haired fella who actually set up the bomb that killed Alec Holland…and somehow managed to evade mossy justice at the Swamp Thing’s hands. And then there was the mysterious device we were told about (but never shown) that kept folks away from Alec and Linda Holland’s graves…the story of which was to be told in a future issue of DC Comics Presents, which, alas, did not come to pass.
Here’s another Swamp Thing plot development from the original series that’s since been lost: Abby Arcane’s mystical powers. In issue #15 (Mar/Apr ’75) by David Michelinie and Nestor Redondo, Swamp Thing is possessed by a demon, while his soul is trapped in a magic globe. Abby has a sudden, mysterious insight into how to stop the infernal creature:
She determines that smashing the globe will not only cause no harm to Swampy’s soul, but it will also sufficiently weaken the demon so that it may be defeated. It’s possible that it’s just a lucky guess, but the narrative as much as tells you that she had some kind of mystical hoohar goin’ on.
This new ability of Abby’s is next brought up in Swamp Thing #17 (July ’75), as Matt Cable and Abby have a brief conversation about her unusual talents:
Okay, “I sense evil” isn’t much of a magical insight, I suppose, but Matt mentions that she “keep[s] having” these feelings, though the only one we see “onscreen” is the event in #15.
The power moves beyond “lucky guesses” and “feeling evil” in #18 (Sept ’75), as the good guys are tied or chained up by the bad guys…but before things move too far along, Abby’s powers free her from her bonds:
…And while in her magical trance, she turns and apparently sees the Swamp Thing through the wall of the building in which she’s trapped:
She calls out to him, Swampy smashes through the wall Kool-Aid Man style, beats the crap out of some people, and the good guys win again.
Matt Cable has further questions about Abby’s powers:
…but that’s the last we hear of them, as after the two-part story in #19 and #20, Matt ‘n’ Abby disappear from the Swamp Thing saga, until about a dozen and a half issues into the ’80s revivial of the series. And, by the time they reappear, the “Abby’s powers” subplot is long forgotten. Matt has weird powers by that point, but that’s another story entirely.
I’m the only person who cares about this, I realize. Thank you for tolerating my bizarre obsessions.
Just a couple brief notes:
1. Having glanced through the last issue of the Civil War series, my immediate thought was “this really wasn’t worth all the grief we had to put up with.” And to my customers who asked “Is this it? Is Civil War finally over?” — all I could do was sadly shake my head. More one-shots and other assorted follow-ups to come, my friends…keep your wallets ready.
2. My comments to Employee Aaron as I was going through some ’50s and ’60s Blackhawk comics:
“Okay, I know this isn’t how it worked, but looking at these things…it’s like, if a comic script wasn’t good enough for the Superman line of books, it was passed over to Batman and slightly rewritten for use there. If the script wasn’t good enough for Batman, it was passed down to the Blackhawk guys and rewritten for that team. And if the script wasn’t good enough for the Blackhawks, they gave it to Wonder Woman.”
I repeat: I KNOW THIS ISN’T WHAT THEY ACTUALLY DID. But after seeing the Blackhawks fight a bald scientist or the Blackhawk Revenge Sq…er, the League of Anti-Blackhawks or, for God’s sake, Cat-Man, you can’t help but wonder.
3. From the Newsarama article on Stephen King’s appearance at the New York con:
“[Marvel editor-in-chief Joe] Quesada went on to say that publishing the Dark Tower comic book has been the coming out party for the comic book industry, noting that this project will be able to reach far out into the mainstream, and show that comics are a serious art form, and ‘an art form to be reckoned with.'”
Well, no, it won’t, but it’ll sell well for a while, and it’s not a bad comic, so I can’t complain about that. But it’s not going to make everyone start taking the medium “seriously.” Like I said before, it’ll get non-comic-reading King fans in the door to buy Dark Tower (and only Dark Tower)…at least for a while, until they get tired of trying to keep up with a comic on a monthly basis (or whatever publishing schedule it finally ends up being on).
So after whatever sales-bump/media attention Marvel is getting from their current novelty publishing license dies down, mainstream news coverage will go from the “Hey, did you know there’s a Stephen King comic book” stories we’re getting now, and back to the “BAM! ZAP! POW! Comics are (worth money/corrupting kids/still being published, believe it or not/cheap R&D for movies where real money is to be made/read by freaks like this local collector we’re interviewing)” stories the industry usually gets. And non-comic-readers will go back (if they ever stopped) to looking upon comics with indifference, if not outright disdain.
Bitter cynicism aside…I thought it was kinda cool that Stephen King went to the New York Con to plug the project. I’m enough of a fanboy to admit it.
from Straight Arrow #35 (March/April 1954)
So long, Walker.
(More details here.)
As a seller of funnybooks, I would like to present my unbiased rebuttal to Kevin’s recent essay:
BUY MORE COMICS.
Buy everything. If it features a character you like, buy it. If it features a character that once met a character you like, buy it. If it features a creator you like, buy it. If it features a creator you don’t like, buy it so you can complain about the creator online. If you’re not enjoying reading the comic, hell, keep buying it, it’s bound to get better eventually. What are you, a quitter? You don’t want to have any holes in your collection, do you? Of course you don’t. Other comic fans will laugh and point at you, and rightfully so. So BUY MORE COMICS. If there are multiple covers, buy one of each. In fact, what you should do is buy two of each cover, so you can keep a set aside for future investment potential, and have a set for reading…it’s important to have one of each cover, in case you want to read the story underneath one cover as opposed to the other. Oh, and crossover events, you gotta get all those. You’re gonna feel left out if you don’t know what’s going on in the superhero multiverse of your choice. (Or, heck, choice nothing…you should be reading all the superhero multiverses.) Let’s see, you’ll need to buy the primary crossover event, and all the tie-ins…and you’ll probably want to buy two sets of the tie-ins, so you can store one set with in the storage box devoted just to the crossover, and the other set where the titles would be normally filed. That way, if you have an issue of Bungee Cord Warriors that ties into Crisis of Infinite Pants, you can have one copy in your Bungee Cord Warriors box and another in your Crisis of Infinite Pants box. See how that works? You may want to think about buying a third set for actual reading…perhaps third and fourth sets so you can store those along with the keeper sets in the separate boxes.
So BUY MORE COMICS. I don’t care what. Just buy some. Preferably from me. Give me your money. DO IT NOW.
…You people are so damned lucky I use my powers for good, and not for evil.
In other, less sarcastic news:
“The Infinite Crisis of Comics” – article on New York Comic Con focuses on gradual death of superhero comics, and why Marvel and DC’s output won’t appeal to anyone not already reading their books.
Live-action Justice League of America movie threatened.
“United States: The World’s Batman?”
“President Bush reminds Americans that he believes the U.S. is the sole force responsible for protecting the world from evil. Likewise, in the original 1989 film Batman, Bruce Wayne believes that he must defend the city ‘because nobody else can.’ Batman and America have devoted themselves to the idea that one man or one nation can address the myriad of problems the world faces. Consequently, Batman and the U.S. take it upon themselves to fight the rogues of the world—be they dumpy cranks like the Penguin and Kim Jong-il, or menaces who always answer questions by posing them, like the Riddler and Iranian President Ahmadinejad. In doing so, they invest their very beings into attaining a specific world order. And they even have the help of staunch sidekicks: Batman’s got Robin, America’s got Tony Blair!”
Hey, it’s pal Dorian
‘s birthday today! Happy birthday, boy chum!
Once more into the breach, my friends, as you and I storm the latest issue of the Diamond Previews catalog (March ’07)…grab your copy and follow along, won’t you?
p. 312 – Angel: Masks:
You know, that “Angel turns into a puppet” episode of Angel is probably the peak of the whole Buffyverse saga…it’s cute, it’s funny, it’s self-mocking, it’s actually as good as some hardcore Buffy fans think every episode is, and for some reason, every time one of the licensees dips into the puppet well, it diminishes the original for me. I’ve spoken before about the multiple Angel-as-puppet dolls, and the apparently based-on-fanfic Spike-as-puppet doll (resolicited this month, in fact!), and now this comic, featuring a Angel puppet story. Hey, maybe it’ll be great, but I’m all puppeted out.
p. 393 – The Wolverine Handbook:
I so wanted this to be a “How to become just like Wolverine” instruction manual. “First, don’t take any grief from anyone, bub. Second, get claws, learn how to use ’em.” Alas, it seems to be just a Marvel Universe Handbook-style biographical overview.
p. 422 – Samurai Sandals:
“Not only did the Samurai have to protect their bodies with metal armor, but they also had to protect their feet! Now you can feel like a warrior with these cool Samurai sandals! NOTE: Not available in Germany.”
Whoops, sorry, my German friends. NO SAMURAI FOR YOU. Also, it’s odd that there’s no indication that this is some kind of merchandising tie-in to a Japanese cartoon (like everything else in this section). It’s just, hey, a pair of sandals, offered up in the funnybook catalog! I wonder if any other sandals had been offered by Diamond before…like Hulk flip-flops or something.
p. 425 – “Comics Are…” Black t-shirt:
Oh, I beg to differ, my friend. May I point out to you the Diamond Previews adult supplement….?
p. 446 – Star Trek The Original Series “Cloth Retro” Series 1 Kirk & Klingon Action Figures:
It always ages you just a little when toys you had as a young’un are reissued as “retro” items. Yes, I had these figures, and more besides. I even had the big ‘ol Enterprise bridge playset…okay, now I’m depressing myself.
p. 462 – Star Trek The Original Series “Landing Party” Spock 40th Anniversary Statue:
“Captain, look, over there…I believe I see…a nerd….”
(Yeah, I know, so says the guy who had the Enterprise playset.)
p. 462 – Star Wars Jawa mini-bust:
Actually, you get two Jawa busts in this set. How cool is that? I’m not really poking fun or anything…I just loves me the Jawas.
p. 481 – Demonbane Aru & Raika 1/8 PVC Statue:
“The new anime series Demonbane [based on a hit video game] mixes elements of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos with the time-honored traditions of the Giant Robot anime for a genre-busting series that must be experienced!”
Okay, I’m going to guess the “sexy girls in bikinis” thing must be one of those time-honored Giant Robot anime traditions, because Lovecraft probably would have keeled over dead (I mean, sooner than he already did) if ever saw anything like this.
p. 484 – Jaws 12-inch Plush with Sound:
“It also features a sound-chip that plays the classic John Williams theme music when you squeeze his body!”
You know, when I was a kid, I had quite a few Jaws-related (or at least inspired) items, which, now that I think about it, was kind of odd. But this item would have fit right in.
p. 498 – Spider-Man 3 Push Light:
Let’s see, normally you can get these at the 99-cent store, but slap some Spider-Man stickers on ’em…and now you got yourself a $5.99 item. Well done, sirs, well done.
p. 500 – Shrek Talking Pens:
Celebrate one of the most overexposed film franchises of recent memory with pens containing sound chips featuring your favorite Shrek characters. Guaranteed to aggravate everyone within hearing, with the almost-certain exception of the person who actually owns the pen. Fun for everyone!
Marvel Previews p. 87 – Marvel Milestones Zombie Spider-Man & Mary Jane Statue:
For those of you looking for a way to really confirm the neighbors’ opinions about you. I mean, you all know how crap like this looks to the uninitiated, right? “Why do you have a statue of evil Spider-Man standing with a gutted woman, Bob?” “Well, uh….” “I don’t believe you are the type of person we’d want at our fourth annual neighborhood weenie roast/charity sack race, Bob…good day to you, sir.”
Yes, that’s right, Happy Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Day, as it’s been exactly one year* since the second, and, thus far, last issue of this proposed six-issue series was released to the eagerly-awaiting public.
Marvel’s page for #3 still has the release date of May 17th, 2006, though it has since been announced that the series is off the schedule until all remaining issues are completed.
So celebrate with me one year of having to repeatedly tell customers “No, I’m sorry, I’m not sure when it will be out.” Celebrate the order numbers for Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk #3 being presented to me for adjustment on several occasions, filling me with some small false hope that it may actually be released. Celebrate the fact that as often as I was asked about the comic in early to mid-’06, I only sporadically get questions about it now…customers usually asking in the context of “Pfffft…typical Marvel!”
And celebrate with me just one more nail in the coffin of comic book consumer confidence. Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk, All-Star Batman, Civil War, Wonder Woman…thanks, guys, for giving me the opportunity to explain your problems to my customers! I couldn’t be happier!
* Okay, it’ll actually be one year on the 22nd, but I thought this celebration would be more fitting on the day the new comics are released. Think of it as “Ultimate Wolverine Vs. Hulk Day (observed).”
“Mardi Gras celebrations grow in Grand Rapids”
“The Super Happy Funtime Burlesque show will highlight the New Orleans-themed bar’s four-day Mardi Gras celebration, which kicked off Saturday.”
“Tonight’s event, which starts at 9 p.m. is burlesque in the classic sense — provocative, funny entertainment for adults — but with a New Orleans twist. The show will include a jazz-style funeral procession, a reincarnation ritual, ‘Swamp Thing’ dancers and a living voodoo doll.”
“Swamp Thing dancers.”
Whatever it is I’m picturing in my head, it surely isn’t what’s happening at this Mardi Gras event.
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