“His shadow — advantageous!”

§ April 13th, 2022 § Filed under publishing § 11 Comments

Going to jump around a bit addressing some of your recent questions left in my comments sections, starting with this one that Thom H. though nobody would notice. I SEE ALL, THOMATHAN:

“Not sure if anyone will actually see this, but I just realized my copy of Miracleman #23 has a printing error. Some of the art is cut off at the top and some is cut off at the bottom, depending on the page. Does that make it worth a lot more money now?”

I took a look at my own copy of this comic, and it doesn’t appear to have any printing issues like that, and I don’t recall hearing about any widespread printing problems with this issue, so it could be you have a relatively unique item. The big question, though, is “does anybody care?” when it comes to additional collectibility.

The answer is usually “who the hell can tell” particularly in today’s market, where just about anything and everything can become a reason to inflate a price.

I would say one of the most famous of the printing-error books is Venom: Lethal Protector #1, where mistakes make in the application (or lack thereof) of the foil enhancements resulted in the “black” variant and at least one white variant (which I hadn’t heard of ’til looking up this link for the post you’re reading now).

In this Venom comic’s case, those variants do admittedly look very striking, and one can see how they would attract extra demand. As per the links a couple of paragraphs above, a small miscolored patch on an Amazing Spider-Man cover is…a tad more inexplicable as to why anyone would give a poop, but a miscolored Galactus in only part of the print-run is more understandable.

But a trimming error in the interior pages? The wide net cast by collectors trawling for any reason to create an investable item has yet to dredge that up, far as I can tell. Though things change fast, and for all I know “OCCUPY AVENGERS #4, CENTER PAGES MISCUT IN HALF, RARE H@T” will turn up on eBay at any moment.

• • •

Roel Torres asked in response to my Solson post earlier in the week (see, told you I’d be jumping around):

“Mike, are Quadro Gang and Shadow of the Groundhog the worst comics you’ve ever encountered?”

Okay. I try to be as charitable as I can be when it comes to comics. “It’s not for me” is, I think, a fair response to any book that I don’t happen to care for. Admittedly, I’ve come down hard on comics that are very not for me, but it’s been more of a sarcastic or silly disdain than any real hatred (I’ve used Purgatori as a punchline once or twice, for example).

In the case of Quadro Gang (which gets a full evisceration here — thanks to MisterJayEm for the link), I would say in its defense that it at least seems sincere. The cartoonist had characters she created, and stories she wanted to tell, and by golly that’s what she did. She printed up comics, and they were distributed to stores.

I realize that intention doesn’t make a comic good, and this comic was…not your typical professionally polished comic book. But there is at least an attempt at making content, at telling stories, and for that alone I would put Quadro Gang above something like Shadow of the Groundhog.

It’s been a very long time since I’ve looked in a copy of Shadow of the Groundhog, so it’s very possible a fresh reread would alter my opinion. But until then, my opinion is that it was a cynical attempt at riding the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coattails, getting stores to put their money into another new small-press black and white comic in case that Turtle lightning would strike twice. And that the artwork and writing inside only existed because shipping a collectible item only intended for investment and not for reading with blank pages was, as yet, a bridge too far.

Again, just my opinion. Maybe this was just as apparently-sincere an attempt at comic book making as Quadro Gang. The black and white boom inspired a lot of people to get into the business of making comic books, for different reasons — being able to tell the stories they wanted to tell, or making a quick buck from a volatile marketplace. I happen to think Groundhog was more the latter than the former, but I’m willing to be told I”m wrong.

These were both obviously amateurly-produced comics, and, despite whatever motivation brought about their existence, I think it’s safe to say on an objective level, they’re not very good. But when you get right down to it, are they The Worst?

In the early 1990s, Kitchen Sink put out a two-part series called the World’s Worst Comics Awards, which went through a bunch of professionally-published comics from Major Comic Book Publishing Companies and dunked on how dumb some of them were. Basically this comic was the forefather of comics blogs, which I think my blogging brother Andrew once pointed out. And frankly, I think buying a comic from what is supposedly a Real Publisher that knows what it’s doing and ending up with a real stinker is worse than some vanity-press book by amateurs.

And by “stinker,” I don’t mean “oh, that story wasn’t very good.” I mean, “this shouldn’t have made it past an editor” kind of stuff. Specifically, I’m thinking of an issue of Avengers that looked like it was drawn by a child. Or many comics in the ’90s that only seemed to be released because pages needed to be filled and they just ran what they got. And even Charlton Comics should have been better than this.

So I don’t know if that entirely answers your question, Roel. Small press books by amateurs are one thing, but outright junk from companies that supposedly apply some quality control is another.

11 Responses to ““His shadow — advantageous!””

  • James Morrison says:

    Re ‘Quadro Gang’, it is bad, but I have absolutely seen worse and equally half-arsed stuff from Fantagraphics.

  • Yeah, the World’s Worst Comics folks stated three rules from the start of the sequential snarkfest:

    1. No “independents published with allowance money.” Only companies and creators who “should’ve known better.”

    2. Only comics from around 1964 onward, when “producers started realizing people might want to read comics beyond puberty.”

    3. No “worst artist” or “worse writer” categories, because they didn’t want to be too mean — which they defeated the purpose of by having numerous “worst dialogue” callouts.

    I’m with Mike on the hypothetical “worst” comic being one of the many, MANY half-jack and utterly forgettable 90s superhero jobbers cranked out during the 1990s.

  • Thom H. says:

    Thanks for the answer (and for using my true, God-given first name “Thomathan”). I did a little rudimentary search and couldn’t even find the printing error mentioned, so it’s unlikely it’s widespread. I guess I just got lucky(?).

    As for whether people would care if they did know, that’s a great question. If they want to read the comic, the trimming error makes that more difficult. But speculators don’t always care about readability. Just not sure if “MIRACLEMAN #23 RARE VARIANT HARD TO READ” would attract people or repel them.

    Anyway, thanks for giving me a platform for auctioning off my low-print-run, never-been-reprinted, key collectible issue of Miracleman (that has some word balloons chopped off in weird places but don’t worry about it). Let’s start the bidding at…$1 million?

  • Daniel T says:

    Mike, what issue of Avengers are you talking about? I bought the 40 Years of Avengers on DVD-ROMs(!) when it came out and finally got around to reading through it a few years ago. I remember one issue that looked so terrible I was amazed Jim Shooter let it be released, but with a cursory look I can’t find the issue.

  • Daniel T says:

    And almost as soon as I posted that I remembered what I thought the cover looked like and found the issue: #340. Which means what I must have thought was “Jim Shooter would have never let this comic be released.”

  • Ray Cornwall says:

    That Charlton story with the Siamese twins…that one panel of the headshot of the evil twin…I might have to make that my avatar.

  • Donald G says:

    Oof, that issue of Avengers is *almost* as bad as what I consider to be the worst “professional” art job published by Marvel under Shooter – Leo Duranona and Klaus Janson’s work on the story in Marvel’s STAR TREK #10 back in 1980.

  • If you can find World’s Worst Comics Awards cheap, it is incredibly worth it, if you like anything “so bad it’s good.” (is wearing Plan 9 tshirt right now) It led to me buying a battered copy of Tod Holton Super Green Beret. It’s a comic that is certainly…a thing that exists. Here’s my old take on it, if you’re interested:

  • Matthew Murray says:

    There is a market for miscut Magic the Gathering cards. Some of them can be highly sought after.


  • Snark Shark says:

    “And even Charlton Comics should have been better than this”

    That WAS bad. But I still say Millenium was WORSE.

  • One of Bart Beaty’s favourite comics to teach was “The Tally Book of Dusty Roads” (Cowboy Western #18). It has amazingly terrible panel-to-panel continuity, so the storytelling errors made throughout were very helpful as a negative example in teaching how comics work. He would show the comic to the class and challenge his students to see how many errors they could identify.

    One of his nicknames for the story was “The Many Hats of Dusty Roads” because his hat seems to change shape and size every panel. It’s genuinely amusing to follow its development.