Free samples.

§ December 19th, 2005 § Filed under Uncategorized Comments Off on Free samples.

I miss these old DC Sampler books…they were basically just ads for DC’s upcoming comics, but the ads were, for the most part, two or three page splash images featuring illustrations, and sometimes even very brief stories, by the various creative teams that don’t appear anywhere else, far as I know.

DC Sampler #1 (1983) has, for example, a two page All-Star Squadron splash by Jerry Ordway, with full-on Golden Age superhero versus Golden Age villain mayhem, a Jim Aparo Batman & the Outsiders versus the Joker sequence, and a cute Legion of Super-Heroes ad revisiting old DC logos:

Another highlight of the first DC Sampler was the war book ad, featuring the creative teams being lined up for a firing squad! Here’s the second page, with a great Joe Kubert shot of Rock and Easy Company:

DC Sampler #2 (September 1984) kicks off with a three-page ad for Atari Force, illustrated by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. This is also the comic where the Alan Moore “this is the place” text piece advertising his work on Saga of the Swamp Thing ran. An image by Steve Bissette and John Totleben of a swamp accompanied the piece, and Swamp Thing himself doesn’t appear in it…or does he? It’s been twenty years since I first looked at this picture and wondered if Swamp Thing is hidden in it somewhere, and I’m still not convinced he isn’t in it. (A longer version of the text piece later ran in one of DC’s “Meanwhile…” editorial columns.)

This issue also had a cartoon on the inner covers by none other than Fred Hembeck, with Clark Kent, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White discussing DC’s coming comics:

So remember a while back when I was complaining about DC’s flexographic printing process? Well, DC Sampler #3 (1984) may very well be the worst example of it…a few pages in this book are so garish and off-register you don’t even want to look at them. Thankfully, Fred Hembeck’s wraparound cover is unblemished by this process.

This issue begins with a three-page Swamp Thing preview by Moore, Bissette, and Totleben, with a very short (like, three panels) retelling of his origin, and some nice images of Arcane, the Demon, John Constantine and Abby. Thankfully, the flexographic process didn’t do to much damage to this piece.

Also contained in this issue are a couple longish text previews…the one for Atari Force is particularly interesting, as it’s Mike Baron providing brief character sketches for the entire cast (accompanied by panels from the comic…no new art for this preview, unfortunately). The last page of the comic is a full-page splash of Jonni Thunder AKA Thunderbolt by Dick Giordano, while an uncredited text piece plugging this comic takes up the inside back cover.

I think I’ve mentioned on the site before (though I couldn’t find it) that one of (if not the) original logo for Crisis on Infinite Earths ran in this comic…here it is again, in case you haven’t seen it before:

The “Batman and the Outsiders Primer” by Mike Barr and Jim Aparo is amusing, featuring rhymes for the various characters. A slightly disturbing example:

This comic also provides a brief glimpse of a new superhero character that was to be introduced in the pages of Green Lantern, until creative team shifts curtailed the project:

And the name of this character?

Just think, if DC ever actually went through with this character at the time, we’d most likely know Image Comics by a different name now.

(This post was originally going to be a longer examination of The Image’s genesis and non-appearance, but after I’d finished composing my entry, a Google search found Bob Rozakis explaining the whole thing a lot more succinctly than I would have.)

Anyway, these DC Samplers are worth tracking down…I don’t believe they’re terribly hard to find, and they should be cheap when you do find them. I know DC did a couple other similar promo books after the end of the Samplers, but they’re not quite as nostalgia-inducing…at least for me!

EDIT: Jim from Double Articulation was nice enough to point me in the direction of this webpage, which has a full scan of DC Sampler #2.

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