I’ve once again dipped my toes into the Trouble with Comics pool, contributing to the Weekly Question of the Week, he said redundantly and repeatedly, this time discussing favorite “Comics What Never Wuz.” As you probably have guessed, I picked Swamp Thing as the focus of my discussion, and if you’re familiar with Swamp Thing at all, there should be one story that comes to mind right away, so of course I primarily discussed another one. Anyway, go read what I had to say and then meet back here so I can give you some additional notes on the matter. Go on, read it. I’ll know if you haven’t. I’M WATCHING.
Okay, one thing I wanted to add was a bit of information I gleaned from the Tom Yeates interview in the new-last-week issue of the Back Issue magazine. Yeates (who drew most of the initial storyline on the Saga of the Swamp Thing comic from the early 1980s) said he was approached to complete the art job on that Wein/Wrightson reunion comic that Wrightson ended up departing. In the Swampmen book I reference over at TwC, Wein says he suggested “several names” to the publisher, including Kelley Jones (who’s drawn his fair share of Swamp Thing comics over the years), so I imagine Yeates was probably one of said suggestions. Anyway, it’s a shame that particular mini-series never happened.
There were a couple of other Untold Swamp Thing tales I thought I’d mention…in fact, I’ve mentioned them on this site before, but what the heck, let’s bring ’em up again. Well, actually, when you get right down to it, these are more “abandoned plotlines” than “actual comics in that were in the process of being produced but subsequently canned.” First was the old “Abby’s magical powers” storyline that I examine in some detail in this post from (urg) nine years ago. This was a subplot that began in the post-Wrightson issues of the original 1970s series, and it seemed to be leading somewhere, but vanished along with Matt and Abby from the comic, which was cancelled only a few issues later. And, as I said in that original post, when Matt and Abby came back in the revival series Saga of the Swamp Thing, the “magic powers” thing was well forgotten.
I’ve discussed this one from 1983’s Saga of the Swamp Thing #16 before in the context of other abandoned plot threads in comics, but at least in this case it seemed like they were planning a specific comic to address the matter, as opposed to maybe eventually getting around to resolving a subplot (like in the case of Abby’s powers):
In fact, this particular “forthcoming” issue of DC Comics Presents was what might have been intended to be represented by Swampy’s headshot in the DCCP ad in 1983’s DC Sampler #1:
…as the next Swamp Thing/Superman team-up to appear in that magazine wouldn’t be until a couple of years later, well after Alan Moore took over the Swamp Thing comic’s writing chores and sent things in a wholly different direction, leaving behind the mystery of Linda Holland’s grave. Then again, the plugged Supergirl and Batman and the Outsiders team-ups wouldn’t happen for a couple of years, either, but I suspect the Crisis on Infinite Earths nature of the 1985 Supergirl issue wasn’t the story planned when that small mention was placed in the 1983 Sampler book.
All I know was that I waited for this Swamp Thing issue of DC Comics Presents very patiently, and when he didfinally appear in the comic, I enjoyed the story so much I almost, but not quite, forgot all about that gravesite device plotline. …Hence this blog post.
Thanks to Twitter pal Sean for sending this my way…a poster for a concert that, alas, was a few days ago as I write this, so if you wanted to go, you missed it. I sincerely hope there was a skateboarding Swamp Thing at the show, as advertised.
I’m reminded of something from a long time ago, the misty dawn of the 1990s, when old friends Rob (bass) and Zack (vocals) were in the local nerd-punk band Phooey. They were going to be doing a show with The Muffs, and I’d found a panel from a Harvey comic that would have made for a good flyer. It was a shot of, I believe, Spooky, exclaiming “PHOOEY! It’s no fun to play with girls!” I thought it was funny, but alas, the flyer was never made, but it’s just as well — I wouldn’t have wanted to make it even the tiniest bit easier for the he-man woman-hater types that pollute the internet now to find said image for sadly non-humorous, non-ironic usage.
So you Swamp Thing fans out there, of which there are at least one or two I’m pretty sure, should keep a lookout for this edition of the British Canadian horror magazine Rue Morgue:
…that’s issue #169, and I normally just get a copy in that shop for a pull list customer, but of course once I saw what was being featured I had to get my mitts on one myself. I like the cover, which of course incorporates Steve Bissette’s cover from Swamp Thing #51. It’s a nice seven-page chunk of the mag in full color, featuring interviews with cocreator Len Wein, artist of the recent mini-series Kelley Jones, and writer of the back half of the New 52 series, Charles Soule. There’s a brief overview of Swampy’s history, and a review of the aforementioned mini. It’s a welome addition to the ol’ Swamp collection.
Checking with my distributor, it appears to be no longer available through them (and any other retailers checking there themselves should note they have a different cover attached to the item information for this issue). However, it appears you can mail order a physical copy from the official site for the magazine, or even get a digital copy, if that’s the way you swing.
And speaking of swinging…er, I mean, of Swamp Thing:
…there he is, palling around with his old chum John Constantine in the first issue (as opposed to the Rebirth one-shot that came out a month ago…thanks for making me have to explain the “two number ones” thing to every customer, DC) of The Hellblazer, which is different from the other Constantine series called Hellblazer in that there’s a “The” there in the title now.
Inside the comic, Swamp Thing needs John’s help with something-or-other, and the two trade quips and barbs and it kinda feels like the Good Old Days in case you read that previously-noted one-shot and didn’t care for it (as some of my customers expressed to me). There is an odd continuity thing, which…well, to catch you folks up:
1. Lab explodes, and Alec Holland’s burning body plunges into the swamp.
2. The chemicals Alec was working on merge with the swamp and with Alec’s body, and out pops Swamp Thing.
3. Swamp Thing believes he is Alec Holland, mutated by science gone awry.
4. It is revealed that isn’t the case, that Alec did in fact die in the explosion, and the plant elemental that arose used Alec’s memories as a template for itself.
5. That Swamp Thing hangs around for a long time, before eventually going away.
6. Alec is returned from the dead, and this time he actually is turned into Swamp Thing to replace the previous one.
As per what seems to exist in New 52/Rebirth continuity, that Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing still happened, and in one issue Actually-Is-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing meets Thinks-It’s-Alec-Holland Swamp Thing. What of the published stories is still in continuity is anyone’s guess, especially since a major thing that happened to a supporting character during the Alan Moore/Bissette/John Totleben era seems to Have Never Happened now.
In The Hellblazer #1, we get a discussion referring to a specific something that happened during the Not-Holland-Swampy’s tenure, with John chiding Current Alec-Swampy for it. Now it could be that maybe Alec-Swampy did a similar thing off-panel and this is the first we’re hearing about it, or that John somehow forgot these are two different Swamp Things, or that the previous Swamp Thing merged with the current Swamp Thing somehow and they’re basically the same being, or it’s a complicated Rebirth re-fiddling with the continuity thing, or this was all explained somewhere and I missed or forgot it because I don’t reread every issue multiple times anymore, or maybe I’m just thinking too much about it.
Anyway, it’s just a very minor point in this issue and only some crazy person who’s been reading Swamp Thing for the better part of four decades and also has a blog would really bring it up.
So ye olde Google Alerts pulled up this article about the recent Heritage Art Auction, and yeah, a Frazetta painting brought in a lot of dough, and sure, an Action Comics #1 sold for whatever, but what you’re here for is Swamp Thing news!
Bernie Wrightson’s original art for the cover for the first issue of the classic Swamp Thing series, published in 1972, went for over $191,000:
…and Wrightson’s wraparound cover for DC Special Series #2 (1977) went for the relative bargain price of just under $66,000:
What sort of surprised me is that these pieces were still out there, trading around on the market. It makes me wonder where all the Swamp Thing original art from House of Secrets #92 might be. Hey, if you see the original art for this cover pop up on eBay for, like, $100, maybe even $150, let me know, okay?
Speaking of original art, Twitter pal Jason pointed out this Amazon listing for the very-forthcoming Swamp Thing Bronze Age Omnibus due on in 2017. The listing notes that it includes House of Secrets #92 and Swamp Thing issues #1 through 25. As all true Swampheads know, the original series only published through #24, which has me wondering if the omnibus is going to include those unpublished pages from #25 that turned up in the original art marketplace a few years back. That would be nice, particularly if they were able to find other pages from the issue, if they exist.
It could just be a typo, though Twitter pal Christopher notes that the same information turns up elsewhere. That could just mean the typo’s in whatever press release got sent around to everyone, though. Wouldn’t be the first time a Swamp Thing #25 got typo-ed into existence…the Overstreet Price Guide mistakenly had it in their listings for a few years.
Anyway, it’s not like I’m not going to get one for myself, regardless. Can’t pass up my, what, fifteenth, sixteenth reprint of House of Secrets #92? Oh, and it’ll be nice to have the rest of the the Nestor Redondo-illustrated issues on good paper, after only getting three of them reprinted in that Roots of the Swamp Thing book from a while back. And speaking of that, the theoretical Roots of the Swamp Thing Vol. 2 that I wrote about a couple of years ago seems to still be a shadow of a whim of a dream, judging by this Amazon listing with no potential arrival date noted. If that even means anything. I have no idea. You should probably ask someone who knows something about comic books.
But regardless, thassa lotta Swamp Thing heading our way in our format or another. Now let’s hope this book sells well so we can get a second omnibus with all those Challengers of the Unknown and Super Friends and other Swampy appearances under one cover. And maybe that second installment of the Patchwork Man story that only appeared overseas, too. That’ll save me a trip to Sweden, at least.
Gaspar Saladino was the letterer’s letterer, providing logos and text for many a comic book for several decades, for Marvel and DC, and designed logos for all the 1970s Atlas books (such as this great one for Grim Ghost), and many, many more.
And of course he created the logo for a comic book series of particular importance to me:
And also did the lettering within, designing the distinct balloons for both Swamp Thing’s thoughts and his rare vocalization:
He was a great talent, and an essential part of the look-and-feel of those early Swamp Thing comics. He’ll be missed.
Mark Evanier has an obituary (he mentions that there’s some question to Saladino’s actual birth year, hence the question mark in this post’s title), and Todd Klein has an overview of some of Saladino’s early DC work (parts 123).
So the full Justice League Dark animated movie preview is out there on the internettings, which is a special feature on the soon-to-be-released-in-physical-media-preferred-by-the-old Batman: The Killing Joke DVD and/or Blu-ray that some of you out there seem to be very excited about. Anyway, the video clip I have here is just the short version of said special feature, which you can go out there and find if you’d like, but I wasn’t comfortable just posting it in its entirety:
Of note: Matt Ryan, star of the Constantine TV show and reprised the role on an episode of Arrow is back providing the voice of John Constantine in…Constantine’s first animated appearance, I think? Unless someone hid him in the background of an episode of Teen Titans or something.
Also, Swamp Thing is in the cartoon, his first animated appearance since this cartoon and the one or two sneaky cameos in one or two other DC animated thingies. No voice credit for ol’ Swampy as yet, so I happily throw my hat into that mossy ring. I always imagined him with a sassy valley-girl type voice, as I’m sure all of you have, too.
I’ve had a particularly long Tuesday, so all I have energy for, before I crumble to dust before your eyes, is to type out this link to Pal Andrew, who has answered my question posted to him re: his favorite Swamp Thing story.
I should ask him more Swamp Thing questions…he’s good at answering them!
“i don’t think you’ve said a word about the new Swampy series. which is a shame because Wein and Jones are knocking it out of the park!”
I thought I mentioned it at some point…probably it was on the Twitterers, where I said, after reading the first issue, that it didn’t really do anything for me until the antagonist shows up in the back half of the issue. The series as a whole so far, now that we’re at the half-way point, is…well, it’s okay, I think.
I have no beef with the art. If we can’t have Bernie Wrightson back, Kelley Jones is just dandy, giving us weird, goopy, and creepy illustrations as is befitting a Swamp Thing title. Jones, of course, has drawn Swamp Thing many times over the years, and he’s always welcome.
Swampy’s other creator, Len Wein, is back on writing chores, however, and…well, I don’t know. It’s fine, but…okay, this is mostly on me, I suppose, in that the original ’70s Swamp Thing comics still have a strong appeal, so expecting this new series to compete with my own nostalgic feelings for the older work is very unfair. You Can’t Go Home Again, is what I believe I’d said on Twitter, and that’s probably more aimed at me than it is at Wein. The tone of the scripting just doesn’t feel the same…and why should it, I guess. There is this thing with Swampy’s dialogue that seems out of character, with his talking about kicking something’s ass here, and this bit of business there:
…which doesn’t sound right to me.
I just paged through the most recent issue, #3, again since it happened to be sitting here, and like that first issue, the story didn’t really grab my attention until the latter part of the comic, which leaves on a cliffhanger that genuinely left me looking forward to its resolution.
But even that brought up an issue with me, which is one that’s probably out of Wein’s hands, and that’s the New 52 continuity. Again, this is an issue that bugs me, The Guy Who’s Read Swamp Thing Comics for Nearly Four Decades, and may not be a problem for someone coming to the character fresh, but there’s the big disconnect between what has come before, and the New 52 version of events. Given that we were reintroduced to the “plant that thought it was Alec Holland” version of Swamp Thing post-New 52, I was able to imagine that the adventures we read of that version of Swampy still existed, more or less, even with the changes to Arcane. But, with the return of a certain old supporting character in this issue, unless there’s a lot of weird backstory to be revealed, one of the classic Alan Moore stories from early in his run now appears to Never Have Happened. (It also futzes up a small bit of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, for that matter.)
I can sort of understand the decision…why remain committed to a piece of continuity from decades ago when you’re trying to do new comics for hopefully new readers who may, at best, only know the most basic information about the character’s concept? Not to mention the fact that, referring to those old events involving said supporting character, none of them were experienced by this version of Swamp Thing anyway, if you follow me. It’s not like the Alec Holland-version of Swamp Thing is suddenly going to shout “B-b-but you’re DEAD!” when as far as he knew, that character was just fine and dandy when he last saw him.
Ignore all that if there’s a big reveal in the next issue that this was all a trick and it isn’t really that supporting character but some old enemy in disguise or something.
Anyway, wrapping up…I like the series. The art’s great, and the writing’s tone is taking me a while to warm up to but it’s fine. The continuity issues are a thing, which undermines the proceedings a bit, but that’s because I’m old and read all that stuff so it’s still in my mind when I read this new stuff. But to paraphrase those brilliant philosophers, “it’s just a comic book, I should really just relax.”
EVEN SHORTER CONCLUSION: Mike, you got a new and reasonably good Swamp Thing comic written by its creator and drawn by a great artist — shut up, already.
So Twitter pal BobH pointed this out to me just the other day…a listing for the forthcoming second Roots of the Swamp Thing hardcover (also on Amazon).
Now this hasn’t turned up in Diamond’s system yet, so I don’t have specific details, but from the description it sounds like it’ll be reprinting the balance of the original 1970s Swamp Thing series past the first thirteen issues presented in volume one. My dream reprint project (as noted here) a reality at last! Finally the rest of those great Nestor Redondo-illustrated issues (plus the oddball Ernie Chan/Fred Carrillo story at the end) presented with (hopefully) decent paper and printing.
Assuming the book just reprints the remaining 11 issues in that original Swamp Thing run, this will be a bit shorter than the previous volume. I don’t have an actual page count yet, but it would be nice if they could include whatever pages exist of the unpublished #25.
Less likely would be the inclusion of the interim Swampy stories between the end of the original series and the 1980s relaunch (which were only six years apart, which seems really weird to me). There weren’t really that many Swamp Thing stories in that period…a couple of Brave and the Bold appearances, the DC Comics Presents, those Challengers of the Unknown guest-starring Swampy and Deadman…. Actually, a third volume reprinting all these together wouldn’t be too bad, though the Challengers stories, while wrapping up a plotline or two from the end of the ’70s Swamp Thing comic, don’t quite have the legendary funnybook cachet of the Wein/Wrightson/Redondo era and are probably way low on the reprint priority list.
As I said at that Trouble with Comics link, maybe this will someday lead to a collection of the Marty Pasko/Tom Yeates collaboration in the early issues of the releaunch. That could also stand being on nice paper under one cover, not to mention the possibility of being discovered by a new audience after populating dollar boxes and whatnot for so long.
I was Twittered at and emailed about a thousand times this weekend about this particular product, so I thought I’d better point it out on this here site of mine. Yes, we are finally getting the Funko Pop Vinyl figure we deserve — well, that I deserve, I don’t know about the rest of you jokers — Swamp Thing!
And yes, because I demanded it, there is a glow-in-the-dark variant as well:
…which will make a total of three glow-in-the-dark Swamp Thing figures in my possession once I get my mitts on it.
I do like that the gave the figure the solid red eyes, instead of the usual button-black eyes most of the rest of the figures receive. Now all we need to do is get Arcane, Abby, and, dare I dream, Cranius Pops and all will be right with the world. And in case you’re wondering…yes, I’ll be ordering a boatload of these for the store. I shall fill the windows and line the walls with them. I am confident that this will be a wise business decision.