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Some of you may remember my previous mentions of an early show on the Nickelodeon cable channel entitled Video Comics, in which various DC Comics stories starring the Flash, Green Lantern, Sugar and Spike, etc. would be presented panel by panel with narration. You may also remember my noting this show as one of the methods by which I was introduced to Swamp Thing, another character featured on the program.
Thanks to reader Patrick, who emailed me yesterday to let me know that an episode of Video Comics finally popped up on YouTube, starring guess who:
This episode lacks the intro Video Comics
usually had (I think, probably, just for the more superhero-y installments) of the kids riding their bikes to the local market to ransack the comic racks, while Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” played. Though, I suppose if you have
to have at least the music:
Anyway, thanks again to Patrick for letting me know that Video Comics
finally showed up on the Internet somewhere. This hit the ol’ nostalgia button!
Sorry for the extended outage…I’ve been ill, and have been trying to stay away from Internetting for a few days while I recovered. I even skipped out of most of a Saturday at the shop, which I never do, and apparently that was good planning on my part as a Cardfight Vanguard event we were apparently expecting a couple dozen people for ended up attracting, like, a hundred people, and as I was at home in bed that ended up having to be Someone Else’s Problem, for which I apologize.
A portion of the crown outside our shop – photo by long-suffering Employee Timmy
Anyway, since we last spoke, while flopped on my bed like a big ol’ lump of nothin’, I watched, via Netflix streaming, the entirety of the BBC sitcom Hyperdrive, a very funny spoof on Star Trek-ian type programming.
I also read all about the new Swamp Thing action figure due at the end of the year, or rather watched all about it since I’ve only really looked at the video at that link. I think everyone I know sent me some link or another about this figure…a figure which, by the way, is going to cost about fifty bones. Good gravy, thank goodness for buying things at wholesale. I remember saying something a while back that, on one hand, not having Swamp Thing around meant less tie-in merchandise I’d have to track down and buy (yes, “have to”), while on the other hand, having Swamp Thing comics around means more merchandise, which is great but, you know, I still have to pay for it. There’s been in the last couple of years, what, three t-shirts, a statue, a Squinkie, I don’t even remember what else. Oh, yeah, and a comic book series. Man, comics, did you know they still make those?
In addition, I read more about DC Comics’ latest plan to kill me. My guess is that throwing a Justice League logo onto a Shadow Thief comic isn’t going to increase sales that much, but I have, oh, another month and half to think about that before I send in my orders. I am totally down with a Mongul comic written by Jim Starlin, however.
Oh, and this week, Superman Unchained #1 is out, so I’ll be unboxing loads of those Tuesday afternoon at the shop and sorting out the dozen or so different variant covers. I’ll probably have something to say about that comic later in the week.
So…um…how are you?
I talked before about how I’m not really looking for any more old comics for my collection, outside of an issue of Dog Boy or two, or ’60s and ’70s fanzines. I mean, sure, if something cool comes along I might snap it up for myself, but by and large there’s not a whole lot of specific back issues I’m actively looking for. This comic I acquired a few months back, for example, was the big one, a comic I’d spent years trying to find.
But there is this one comic that I’d been half-interested in buying, one featuring the debut of a character that’s appeared on and off over the decades, that I’d never seen in the shop in all the time I’ve worked here. I’ve always liked its quite striking cover, however, since I first saw it in a long-ago issue of Amazing Heroes, and decided then I’d buy a copy should I ever get the opportunity.
And then, this weekend, there it was in a collection (the same collection where I found the comic with this page, in fact):
#79, December 1968, featuring the debut of Dolphin as written and illustrated by her creator, J. Scott Pike
Now I suppose I could have gone online and bought a copy from someone, but it’s not something I was absolutely going crazy from not owning…I just figured that sooner or later, a copy would come by the shop, and hopefully it would be in halfway decent shape (i.e. Dolphin didn’t have a mustache drawn on her). As it turns out, it was far more “later” than “sooner,” but, hey, good enough. And now I own a copy of this comic, and the cover looks just as great in real life as it did in that magazine article and on comic cover gallery websites.
Also in the comic is a reprint of the first appearance of Aqualad, and a one-page text piece explaining the idea of fanzines as well as promoting a couple…which is certainly an added bonus for me, given my appreciation for ‘zines.
In conclusion: just what I needed, another comic…but it is always nice to finally find that one elusive item you’ve been searching for, the long itch that finally gets scratched.
• • •
In other news:
- So some of the “WTF Certified” covers are getting put out there in advance of release, revealing the full fold-out “shocking” image (though the “WTF” logo itself won’t appear on the comics, cooler heads having prevailed). Well, at least one cover has made it out, anyway, since it’s the only one that’s popped up in my Google search alerts, for what should be obvious reasons.
It looks like the big shocking surprise is a big-name guest star making his second appearance in this series, revealing that his terrible costume hasn’t become less terrible in the year and a half since the last time he visited. Despite that, the issue looks like it could be fun…at the very least, it’s not yet another chapter in the Rotworld storyline, so there’s that.
- If you can bear going to Facebook for this, there’s an announcement that the first Swamp Thing movie is going to be released on Blu-Ray by Scream Factory (a division of Shout! Factory), so you can finally see the zippers on the costumes with all the clarity they deserve. You’ll see a lot of complaining in the comments about the fact this will be the 91-minute theatrical release, and not the 93-minute “international” version with the extra nekkidness from Adrienne Barbeau and others.
Some folks in the comments seem to believe that there is NO Topless Barbeau in the 91-minute version, which as far as I know (based on previous careful examination of the original VHS release) is not the case. It is possible that the second DVD release (replacing the initial DVD release, which did have all the “extras,” as it were) had all the salacious material removed, including the slightly briefer scenes of Ms. Barbeau’s bathing that had existed in previous home video and theatrical releases. I only own the first version of the DVD, not the replacement version, so perhaps some kind reader could verify if such surgery was in fact performed in the second release. Or I’ll just have to rent the stupid thing from Netflix myself. You know, for the public good.
I suspect I have spent a lot of time on this site discussing nudity in Swamp Thing movies. …I’m not proud.
Anyway, it’ll be nice to have any version of the movie on Blu-ray, since my original DVD is not anamorphic. But it is very, very naughty.
So Paul wrote in and asked if I had any comment on this week’s delayed arrival of Scarlet #6 from Marvel’s Icon imprint. And I said, “oh, was it late?” and I checked our cycle sheets at the store, and BEHOLD:
#1 – 7/8/10
#2 – 9/1/10
#3 – 11/4/10
#4 – 1/19/10
#5 – 3/28/11
#6 – 2/6/13
Wow, nearly two years between the last two issues. Not quite Ultimate Hulk Vs. Wolverine level, but pretty close. I probably just didn’t notice it because, unlike that Hulk/Wolverine thing, I didn’t have people asking me every day when it was coming out. Or any day, for that matter. Is anything really late if nobody’s waiting for it? …Ooh, okay, that’s a bit harsh. I’m sorry. But not too sorry, because I have to sell these things, and a two-year gap between issues is kind of bullshit, and certainly no way to keep a readership.
And of course there’s the other end of the spectrum, in which we got three issues of The Avengers over the last three weeks, which is also ridiculous. Or two issues of Superior Spider-Man over the last two weeks. Or seven issues of All-New X-Men since mid-November. I’d like to see comics released on a rational, responsible schedule, one where retailers and customers can plan out their spending, and one where the market isn’t flooded so quickly with consecutive issues of a series to the point of discouraging readership, but I suspect I’ll see “Steve Ditko Sings The Hits – Live On-Stage Revue” before that ever happens.
Mmm. Okay, now I’m angry. WHY MUST YOU POKE THE BULL, PAUL?
Let us go on to happier things:
- I am getting comments and multiple emails from folks telling me that the current Nancy comic strips are retelling the origin of Sluggo. Read ‘em yourself, starting here. …To think I’d ever see the word “reboot” in a Nancy strip, that wasn’t about, say, Sluggo putting on two pairs of boots.
- Big Rich Handley, creator of the Roots of the Swamp Thing website, recently interviewed former Swampy artist Steve Bissette and former Thingy writer Nancy Collins. Good readin’ all around…go check those out.
- This is interesting…John MacLeod, one of the contributors to this issue of Ultra Klutz I discussed a while back, popped up in the comments to that post with a couple of details about his contribution to the comic. And it turns out you can read his Dishman comics online (along with his commentary)…and be sure to take a look at his more recent project, Space Kid.
- Bully, the bulliest of all stuffed bulls, just wrapped up his 366 Days of Alfred Pennyworth project with this explanatory post, and kicked off 365 Days of DC House Ads with this post. How that little bull manages to put out so much good stuff when he has trouble even reaching the keyboard is beyond me.
- Sent to me by Many Folks: Gerhard (he of all-the-bits-of-Cerebus-not-by-Dave-Sim fame) puts down some lavish lines over a Bernie Wrightson-penciled Swamp Thing drawing.
- From pal JP: a penciled image of Swamp Thing and Mary Worth, as you’ve always wanted them.
- “OOH! OOOOOH! ME, ME, HE’S MINE, ME ME ME!“
- “What’s So Great About Swamp Thing?”
“He can easily regrow damaged or severed body parts, and can even transport himself across the globe by leaving his current form, transferring his consciousness to a new form grown from whatever vegetable matter is present in the location he wishes to reach”
“its a mystery and a good show”
“I dunno, you tell me”
So this is a thing that I thought was long gone, somehow accidentally lost or thrown out during one of my changing of domiciles over the last decade or so. However, it was recovered by my father just over this last weekend, found stashed away in my parents’ home where I apparently kept it for safekeeping during one of those moves. And thus, here it is, back in my possession, and I bid you cast your peepers upon this, and weep at its beauty:
This thick paper sign, dated 1990 and measuring about 22 by 30 inches, was intended for insertion in a metal standing frame that would sit out in front of the toy store, advertising to all the mall shoppers that located within that very business were such wonderful items as these
awaiting purchase. And presumably when it says “Collect Them All!” it’s referring to the toys themselves, and not commanding you to collect all the Official Toy Headquarters.
This was given to me by a toy store employee at the time…no, I didn’t fall at his feet and beg for it tearfully, he actually was a customer of mine and just dropped it off at the shop for me of his own free will and not, say, by hypnotic suggestion. But anyway, now that I have it in my hot little hands, will I follow through with my promise at the end of this post and nail it to the front door? Or perhaps I simply will let this post stand as a testament to the fact that I, Michael Ricardo Anatoly Sterling, am the owner of the Last Remaining Official Swamp Thing Toy Headquarters in the Universe. So let it be written, so let it be done.
So you may remember my brief lamentation regarding my girlfriend not spotting any copies of Swamp Thing during her most recent trip to Mexico. To assuage my despair, longtime reader, and resident of Spain, John P. informed me that he had an item or two that might be of interest. And one internationally-shipped package later, BEHOLD:
That is Super Powers
#6, a digest-sized comic published in Portugal in 1987. It reprints, in color, issues #29-#31 of Saga of the Swamp Thing
from 1984, comprising Alan Moore, Steve Bissette, John Totleben, and Rick Veitch’s Arcane trilogy. Leaves out the annual that wraps up the storyline, however.
That’s okay, though, as the comic does feature fan art:
That wasn’t bad, I thought. (And before you ask, no, it’s not autographed…that signature is printed on the page.
This next item is the newest of the bunch that John P. was good enough to send – this is the first issue of the New 52 Swamp Thing series, as issued in Spain:
It’s a squarebound book, presenting the first four issues (and cover images) of the Scott Snyder/Yanick Paquette/et al. series, on nice slick paper with no ads (except some house ads inside the covers).
Here’s an earlier La Cosa Del Pantano, dating from 1988:
It’s 48 pages, staplebound, also adless save for house ads and a couple of pages of editorial matter at the back. It reprints Saga of the Swamp Thing
#21 (1984), with Moore, Bissette and Totleben’s revision of Swampy’s origin, followed by the first chapter of the Nukeface story from issue #35 (1985).
The fourth and final item John P. sent me was another digest from Portugal, Batman Ano Um #1 (1987):
It reprints, as you might have guessed, or perhaps divined by looking at the scan above, the first chapter of “Batman: Year One” by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, and has as its back-up story the Moore and Shawn McManus story from Saga of the Swamp Thing
There’s also a Marv Wolfman/Don Newton Vigilante
story in there, too. An interesting mix of material, I thought. Also of note, there’s a one-page of biography for Batman’s cocreator Bob Kane…and another biography on the facing page for the usually-overlooked Bill Finger.
The Portuguese comics also include this ad for the publisher’s Hulk comic:
…also featuring Sub-Mariner and Rom.
Since my Portuguese is a little rusty, I typed part of this ad into the ol’ Google translator to see what they were saying about our Incredible friend:
“The hate comes up – Hulk loses control
“With terrible nightmares that lead to irreversible abyss of madness, Hulk becomes a savage monster that brutally destroys everything in its path. Read this fantastic story. And much more!”
Also: “Rom the Space Knight” is okay, “Rom, o Cavaleiro do Espaço” is fantástico.
Anyway, a big thanks to John P. for sending these my way. They’re great, and I really appreciate them! The Swamp Thing Shrine grows ever larger.
So I received a used copy of this hardcover in a collection I purchased the other day:
And, well, I did have it in the shop as a new item before, but I never really did sit down and give it a good looking-at then, despite my enjoyment of Don Newton’s Batman. Thus, before putting it out for sale I thought I’d take it home and give it a read…what, it’s going to get more
used? …Well, okay, yeah, I suppose it is, but I’ve the gentle touch of a professional comics handler, and can easily peruse this volume without causing further discoloration, dogearing, spine stress, or, God help us, foxing.
Anyway, I was a fan of Newton’s work, both on Batman and on Infinity Inc., which he had just started to work on when he passed away in 1984 at the too-young age of 49. Reading this book, I find myself struck by one thing, which will hardly be a new or original comment in regards to these sorts of reprint projects, but nevertheless it’s still an honest reaction. The pages are just too white and clean. The Young Mike that’s still rattling around in my head is expecting to be reading these stories on brown-ish newsprint. In fact, when I mentally picture Newton’s art, I imagine dark, moody images…all shadows and mystery. Reprinting in this book on bright pages with bright coloring, even the shadows look like you’re staring at the sun. …Okay, I exaggerate slightly, but still, it was a bit jarring to have the art right in front of me and contradicting my memories of same.
And before you say anything, yes, Infinity Inc. was printed on bright white paper with eye-searingly bright colors, but Newton’s sadly brief tenure there doesn’t have the nostalgic hold his Batman work has for me.
As I was writing this, another sorta unsung comics artist fave of mine came to mind that I’d like to see reprinted in a book like this. I’d totally be all over The Complete Irv Novick.
• • •
One of my readers was kind enough to point out that, in an old post of mine…I mean, really old, within the first month of this site’s life…one of the links I’d posted way back then had apparently since gone feral and now pointed to a porn site. Okay, first off…porn on the Internet? When did that start? And secondly…yeah, link rot. This site is on the verge of turning nine years old, and I’m sure many links in a lot of my old posts now go to destinations I did not originally intend. I mean, if I was sending you to a dirty filthy dirty site
, I was usually pretty good about warning you up front.
I’ve heard about some people going through and consistently maintaining and / or removing links on old posts, but frankly, it’s hard enough to find the time to keep with new posts, or sleep. And then there was the great Blogger-to-Wordpress shift I underwent in early ’10, which resulted in some formatting and archived-post issues, and then whatever that company was that was supporting the old commenting system cut that support, so links to those comments are now no bueno, I guess, and…man, sometimes I feel doing a reboot, and just starting this website from scratch. FORGET EVERYTHING YOU KNEW BEFORE: WELCOME TO THE NEW PROGRESSIVE RUIN! and then I’d never refer to anything before that date ever again.
I’m not going to do it, but, back past a certain point, my site’s a mess. I do still go back and fix links and formatting and stuff if I have occasion to link to an old post, so I’m not letting things totally fall into barbarism, but…well, just assume any super old link is probably taking you straight to a site that’ll sell you V1aG4a or promise you pictures of people inserting Tab A into Slot B.
However, I am happy to note that I still occasionally edit my very first post to make sure it’s still sending you where I want you to go. Man, had I known they’d be fiddling with those addresses every year or so, I’d have picked something else for my debut entry.
• • •
Reader d asks
“Hey Mike, we all know you have every Swamp & Man Thing appearance, but do you collect The Heap as well? Just curious.”
Well, I don’t have every Man-Thing appearance…I do have every one written by Steve Gerber, as well as the first appearance in Savage Tales (not by Gerber), but from about the ’90s forward, I’ve been a little pickier about touching Man-Things.
That has nothing to do with the actual thrust of your question, which is all about the Heap, the original comic book swamp monster dating back to the 1940s. Sadly…no, I haven’t gone out of my way to seek out Heap comics, though I have picked up some of the latter day revivals, such as this 1971 one-shot I’ve discussed in the past, or this new version from Moonstone, or the Airboy/Mr. Monster one-shot from 1987, in which the Heap plays a prominent role, and is a great comic, to boot.
The original Heap comics are about to be reprinted in a series of three hardcover volumes, and I’m still waffling a bit on whether I can afford to pick these up for myself. My usual argument to talk myself into such things is “if I don’t get them now, I’ll probably never have another chance, at least this (relatively) cheaply,” so we’ll see. I am tempted.
• • •
On a related note, in that it’s asked in the same comments section, Casey wonders
“Mike, have you ever done a post about toxic Teen Titans continuity?”
Oh God, no. What I’d wished I had done is recorded pal Dorian and myself going on and on and hashing it all out and realizing that some of the time frames involved would make some of the adult characters a lot older than they should be, or that some of the lengths of time of team membership would be extremely short, or…hell, I don’t remember now. This was prior to DC kind of pushing the “sliding scale” of the Modern DC Superhero Universe to being about 20 years old, as of Identity Crisis, which I recall thinking was a slightly more reasonable time frame, given the amount of “important” events and continuity, not just for the Titans but for everyone, you had to squeeze in there.
Of course, post-Flashpoint, that scale is now about 5 or 6 years, depending on who you ask, I guess, so it’s all a moot point. And I hear tell Titans continuity has even more exciting problems now, as in some indecision whether there were previous Titans teams or not, but I leave the pondering of that question to younger, abler folks than myself.
• • •
And then sometimes I repost a gag I already made on the Twitter
, such as presenting this gag header from Archie’s Joke Book
#134 (March 1969 – hey, my birth month!) and lamenting the fact that in no way does the story live up to this title:
…which is just as well, since Archie couldn’t participate anyway:
Oh, scatological humor! You’re the best
• • •
To bring things back around to the nostalgia of Young Mike from the beginning of this post, just before I soiled it all with continuity nitpicking, porn, poop jokes, and Man-Thing innuendo, I found myself the other day discussing the joys of Omega Men
with a customer of mine.
Although I had read the introduction of the Omega Men in those three or so issues of Green Lantern, I didn’t follow them to their own series (which experienced some small controversy in its early issues due to depictions of violence, back in the “they didn’t know how good they had it” days of fandom). It took Alan Moore, a writer of some note, writing a back-up in two successive issues of the series (#26, pictured, and #27) to get me to take a look…and quite wisely, a new storyline in the main feature started up at that same time, giving Moore-ites like me a solid jumping-on point. It helped that 1) the new regular artist on the series was Shawn McManus, for whom I was developing a strong appreciation, and 2) that the comic itself was just a darned weird, creepy, and plain ol’ interesting sci-fi adventure.
As I was talking about the book with the customer, a couple of things dawned on me that, I suppose, shouldn’t have surprised me but did anyway. The actual run of that “new direction” for Omega Men, from #26 to the book’s eventual cancellation, was only 13 issues, plus an annual. It sure felt like it was longer…not in a bad way, I mean. It’s that a whole lot of stuff happened along the course of that comic, and it’s hard to believe they managed to fit it all into only about a year’s worth of stories (well, technically a year…I think some issues ran a bit late, if I recall correctly). Also, there was a Teen Titans crossover, and, of all things, a Crisis on Infinite Earths-engineered Blue Devil crossover, and an appearance in DC Comics Presents, so that probably helped in the perception of the comics’ apparent length.
The other thing that dawned on me was that the series wrapped up while I was still in high school, which doesn’t feel weird for anyone but me, I realize, but still, it seems like it’s more recent than that. Ah, well…tempus fugit, and all that.
I’ve since picked up the remainder of the series, which of course includes the first appearance of Lobo (which guides at a low $7.00, which sort of surprises me, except I suppose Omega Men print runs at the time were fairly large), and despite the occasional terrifying Kevin O’Neill art job, those earlier issues were fairly staid compared to the outright craziness of the McManus-era stories. Still fun, and worth checking out if you can find ‘em cheap, which they usually are.
• • •
Just to let you folks know, I’m probably entering Low Content Mode for the rest of the week, or at least lower
content mode…the Thanksgiving holiday is coming up, and I’ve also got another project I’m working on at the moment that requires the focus of my creative energy, he said in a hopefully non-New Agey way, so probably you’ll not be seeing much more out of me this week aside from maybe a pic or two. Or you can follow me on the Twitter
where I’m still likely to spout off about something. At any rate, I’ll see you on the other side, and please enjoy your Thanksgiving, where applicable, and everyone else, enjoy your Thursday. Thanks for reading!
• • •
the end of the post! I was wondering where that was.
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