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So twenty or so years ago, when Mystery Science Theater 3000 was still on the air, and a feature film was in the offing, there was a not-insignificant amount of MST3K merchandise floating about. There were the t-shirts, of course, and a promo set of nine trading cards for the film (one of which is pictured to the right, there), and a Dynamic Forces lithograph, and all the stuff from the official fan club…and there was a planned comic book. Acclaim Comics was going to release a Mystery Science Theater 3000 comic book which, if my aged brain recalls correctly, was going to feature Mike and the ‘bots riffing over old Gold Key comics, presumably with their silhouettes superimposed at the bottom of the panels, or something similar.
The comic never did get come out, perhaps due to the MST3K feature film effectively being killed by its very limited release, or perhaps due to comics publishing/marketplace issues…whatever the reason, we didn’t get the funnybook that I, and probably many other MST fans, were hoping for.
Now, in 2017, with a new Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV series in production, and with years’ worth of DVD releases keeping the flame alive, and with the various similar spin-off projects finding new fans (most famously Rifftrax), now apparently is the time to try the comic thing again. Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out, as I somehow missed the announcement, but Dark Horse Comics has entered into a merchandising partnership with MST3K, explicitly mentioning a comic book series as part of the deal. Now, Johanna hopes it’s not just the adventures of the MST crew, and it probably won’t be. I’m sure it’ll be riffing old comics, like the Acclaim series was likely to be…though to be honest, I wouldn’t mind an “Adventures of New Host Jonah and the ‘Bots” series. But man, what I wouldn’t give for some kind of Avengers Forever/Watchmen/Crisis on Infinite Earths/Earth X/Kingdom Come type series tying together all the different iterations of MST3K into one cohesive continuity. Fully painted by Alex Ross, of course. …C’mon, you know that’d be great.
• • •
In response to Turan’s comment
regarding what kicked off my Atlas/Seaboard collection, asking if it was the Bog-Beast
what did the deed. The answer is no, believe it or not…when I was but a young Mikester, I was given a bag of old (well, perhaps not so old, then) comic books that were purchased at a thrift store. As I wasn’t yet the wizened old comics coot I am today, most of these comics were new to me…including the first issue of Grim Ghost
. I thought that comic was pretty great, and when the opportunity arose, I picked up another issue of that series…and eventually, I started picking up others from the publisher, just because they were so like
typical ’70s Marvel and DCs, but just different enough to feel sort of weird and mysterious and compelling. I don’t think I decided I was going to try for them all until after I was actually working in comics retail, but I think I figured there were few enough of them that it was worth a try. ‘Course, nearly three decades later I’m still trying to track some down, but that’s okay. All part of the fun of comic collecting!
By the way, I only remember a couple of other comics from that thrift store bag…one was this issue of Shazam! and the other was the Classics Illustrated version of Frankenstein. Man, thank goodness I didn’t get bit by the Classics collecting bug. “Finally collected all the first printings of the series…now to start on the second printings!” said 88-year-old Mike.
So I had a question or two in response to that long-ago post about the Flaming Carrot Comics magazine that I finally acquired. JRC and BobH asked about Flaming Carrot’s appearances in the Visions ‘zine/con program from about the same time period. This was an annual publication produced for the Atlanta Fantasy Fair, and the Carrot appeared in the first issue in 1979, and reappeared in the following issues up through 1987 (according to the Wikipedia article). This means at least a couple of FC’s appearances in Visions did predate the release of the magazine. Well, three, to be exact, since there’s an ad in the back of the mag for Visions #1-#3.
BobH specifically asks if the Visions material (and the 1981 mag) had ever been reprinted, or at least repurposed/retold, and to the best of my knowledge, they haven’t. The only reprintings I know of have been the Dark Horse collections (later partially reissued via a Kickstarter campaign, it appears) but those were just of the Aardvark-Vanaheim/Renegade Press era comics. One of the Visions issues listed in the back of the FC mag notes a story with the Artless Dodger, who appears later in the regular series, though I suspect the latter is a brand new story rather than a reworking of the original. I would love to see these comics from Visions collected someday, but frankly, if it hasn’t happened yet, it’s not going to, barring some unforeseen, but quite welcomed, Flaming Carrot renaissance. Or if someone just walks into my shop with them someday to sell to me. I’d gladly pay upwards of a dollar each for them.
• • •
Also from that same post, Chris G. asks how far along I am in my Atlas/Seaboard collecting. As you may recall, Atlas/Seaboard
launched in the mid-1970s several color comics (and some black & white mags) by lots of top talent, with the intention of competing with Marvel and DC, and, for various reasons, all those titles went under just a few months later. It’s…interesting, if not always necessarily good stuff, and I decided a long time ago I was going to put together a full set of these. I sort of let it go for a while, but then I started getting large numbers of them in collections brought to my shop, and that restarted the ol’ collecting bug again.
Some of my most recent acquisitions were the first couple issues of the Archie Comics-a-like Vicki, which are among the harder-to-find comics from the Altas/Seaboard line. However, my old boss Ralph is currently holding for me two of the Atlas magazines (a Thrilling Adventure Stories #1 and a Weird Tales of the Macabre #1) so I’ll be a couple of comics closer to finishing the collection. I think I only have about a dozen or so to go. I suppose I could just hunt them down on the eBays, but the fella I bought a bunch from at the shop still has several more boxes to bring in to me, so we’ll see what happens there.
• • •
Hey, lemme thrown in a couple plugs for pals here:
Tegan has just added exclusive content for Patreon supporters that you can read about here.
Joe Hunter has a Patreon going for his cartooning, with exclusive content for contributors. He’s a swell and talented guy, so please check him out.
Andrew is doing Black Orchid Month, because why the heck not, you know? Black Orchid, As Seen on TV if You Watched the Recent Justice League Dark Animated Movie There, which I did just the other day, so I’ll probably have some thoughts on that posted here soon.
Just look at this guy:
This artist sought the perfect depiction of “dude inconvenienced by the regular goings-on of the star of the comic book” and he achieved it. What is this guy’s story? Where did he come from? Where was he headed? How did the actions of the main characters prevent him from achieving his goals? Why is he so quick to the threat of violence? Alas, with no Atlas/Seaboard equivalent of Astro City to follow the lives of these incidental supporting figures, we may never know.
from Police Action #1 (February 1975) by “Jack Younger” (Russ Jones), Mike Sekowsky and Al McWilliams
Some more great art from the 1970s Atlas/Seaboard era: Frank Thorne illustrating “Son of Dracula” from Fright #1 (June 1975), written by Gary Friedrich:
Those thick black panel borders (a regular Thorne thing, if I recall correctly) are used throughout the story, and add a bit of…foreboding, I suppose, to the proceedings. It certainly sets the look of this comic apart.
I love the artwork’s detail, though it’s mostly confined to small-ish panels heavy in dialogue. Not a splash page in the bunch! You certainly got a lot of story crammed into these 18 pages, so you did get your quarter’s worth. Even so, you did get the occasional nicely-sized panel featuring Thorne’s art:
My favorite panel is probably this one, even with the inset panel in the corner:
Okay, maybe without that inset you’d just get more drains and cobwebs in the drawing, but it’s still a wonderfully evocative and creepy image.
…from Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men #3 (July 1975):
Here are another couple of panels more clearly showing the mix of their styles:
Weird and neat…yet another reason why I enjoy that crazy 1970s Atlas/Seaboard line, as short-lived as it was.
So this was squirreled away in the corner of a page in the latest Diamond Previews:
…is the first solicitation for the revival of the ’70s Atlas publishing company
…and…um, well. That’s certainly something.
Now, I realize you can’t go home again, and it’s not like Ernie Colon was going to come back and draw the book, picking up where he left off:
…Well, actually, that’s NOT where Colon left off, since that’s the second of three issues, but man, that’s a great cover.
Anyway, this new Grim Ghost seems…well, I guess the problem I’m having is that it is new, and I’m having a bit of dissonance reconciling this modern-styled, muscled and vein-y Grim Ghost with the Grim Ghost stories of my youth. Now I know how all you people who got the vapors over the new [UPDATED VERSION OF OLD DC AND/OR MARVEL CHARACTER] feel. Though I do have to admit that, following the slight shock I had after first seeing it, this new version of the Grim Ghost has grown on me a wee bit. You know, from the one whole image I’ve seen so far.
So I’ll give it a chance, I think…no idea how good it is on the scripting level, which means I’ll need to read it instead of just judging it by its cover. But I did really love that old Grim Ghost series, which at least earns this new series a chance from me (“he said self-importantly”).
I do like that the solicitation explicitly calls out Spawn, given that Spawn’s origin shares some…similarities with the Grim Ghost’s. You know, bad guy dies, goes to Hell, swings deal with Devil to come back to Earth to serve as Devil’s agent, Devil sends him back to Earth, but years past the time which the “hero” was originally from. Okay, like only five years in Spawn’s case, a couple of centuries in Mr. G. Ghost’s case.
However, if they revive Morlock 2001, I sincerely hope the title stays as Morlock 2001.