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Just in time for me to have bought all those ROM back issues for the store, too.

§ May 26th, 2023 § Filed under marvel, publishing § 20 Comments

Well, this was as real week for “that’s the last thing I expected to hear”-type news, starting with the stunning return of failed-toy-but-reasonably-successful-comic-character ROM Spaceknight to Marvel Comics!

Now as far as anyone can tell, this “return” seems to be limited to reprinting the original material, in this case in those large Omnibus editions and at least one facsimile edition in the form of a reprint of issue #1. Also included will be those crossover issues that, previously, had been on the reprint-banned list and skipped over in trade collections for other characters. For example, an issue of Power Man and Iron Fist will be in Omnibus #1. (Which has me wondering…Peter David put an unarmored, totally human ROM in an issue of Incredible Hulk…will this Not Approved by the License Holder appearance get into an omnibus?)

At any rate, this is exciting news, with the license holder apparently discovering with the attempted ROM comics revival at another publisher a few years back that the ROM people want is the Marvel version. And my recommendation…if you want these, get your preorders in as soon as possible and buy them right away. No idea how long Marvel has the license, or under what restrictions (like how often can they reprint these books). I don’t know if waiting for cheaper “Epic” paperback collections would be wise.

And I don’t know if Marvel would be allowed to reissue some of their other trade collections that previously omitted any ROM appearances. Most notably, there’s an issue of Incredible Hulk that prominently featured the Spaceknight, #296 from 1984, that when reprinted had all of ROM’s appearances in the story replaced with text pieces explaining what happened without mentioning the character by his at that point unlicensed name. Be nice to have that fixed.

After the ROM announcement, people responded with “wow, now do the Micronauts,” and lo, Marvel done did the Micronauts. Like ROM, these comics will also be issued in the large Omnibus hardcover format, preceded by a facsimile edition of the initial Micronauts comic book. Most of the comments I made about the ROM reprints above can be applied to the Micronauts as well. Order early, order often!

I don’t think the Micronauts popped up in other Marvel comics as much as ROM did, but there’s at least the X-Men/Micronauts mini-series so hopefully that’ll make it in. Also, it’s actually pretty good.

The third, slightly less surprising news, is Image Comics announcing they’re shifting their distribution to Lunar. I mean, “less surprising” in that I figured another biggish publisher would split from Diamond and move elsewhere eventually, and that Image was one of the likely suspects.

Like with Marvel, Image will still be available through Diamond, but likely at a worse wholesale discount. This is a pretty significant hit to Diamond, I would think, and one I thought would be a fatal blow. But, given that apparently a number of retailers have stuck with Diamond for their Marvel business, despite it costing more, I imagine the same will occur with Image. So, you know, Diamond’s not done yet. But I can picture a day, maybe years from now, when the company will be “Your #1 Source for Sexy Anime Bikini Girl PVC Statues, and Only That!”

It will be nice to have a couple different sources for reorders, in case one of the other is out of stock on something. And the distributor competition has been good for Diamond, in that my shipments are relatively error free compared to, well, the last couple of decades. I know that’s not the case for everyone, as when I mentioned this on the Twitters I heard from another retailer that the missing/damaged books in his shipments have been just as bad, if not worse. As such, I’ll just consider myself lucky, and hope they’re not building up to a shipment where all my boxes are delivered on fire or something.

image from Incredible Hulk #418 (1994) by Peter David, Gary Frank and Cam Smith

Purge Code Authority – All Words Are Legal.

§ May 19th, 2023 § Filed under publishing § 23 Comments

So in talking about nudity in the Planet of the Apes film and comic I somehow neglected to awkwardly squeeze in my old joke about the French sex farce installment of the franchise Do the Carpets Match the Apes? Ah well, maybe next time.

Anyhow, last time I was talking about how the comic book softened the language just a tad for the last lines of the original POTA, and that the particular phrase would not make its first Comics Code-approved appearance ’til an issue of Justice League in the 1980s. There was a question in the comments from “S” wondering if I meant the word “damn,” leading to this coming clarification.

“Damn,” as we know, has a long history in the funnybooks, though I feel like Marvel kinda avoided using that and “hell” throughout the ’80s, despite leaning hard on them in the ’70s. I do wonder what the first appearance of both would be in comics?

What I was referring to was a slightly stronger epithet, as Taylor says here in the clip from the film. He says “damn” first, then the term I was specifically referencing. NOTE: this spoils the end of the 1968 Planet of the Apes, so if you somehow haven’t seen it yet, please don’t let me be the one who ruins the surprise. BEHOLD THE CLIP.

And as presented in issue #6 of Adventures on the Planet of the Apes (again, reprinted from the black and white magazine), a somewhat bowlderized, certainly less scene-chewing, version of the same event:

That’s the difference of which I was speaking. One invokes God, the other does not.

And here, from Justice League International #12 (1988), is what I believe to be its first use in a Code-approved book:

I presume separating it out in different word balloons helped lighten the impact to let it slip through.

As long as we’re on the topic, the first Code-approved use of “shit” (almost certainly by accident…someone in the Comics Code offices probably just assumed everything was good and rubber-stamped this approval, if anyone bothered to submit it at all) was DC’s adaptation of Star Trek: Generations (the newsstand/”standard” format edition).

First Code-approved version of “pissed off” was, I think, 1989’s Justice League International #23 (Justice League, always pushing that edge!), which I pointed out just a few months ago.

“Asshole” didn’t make it into a Code-approved book, I’m pretty sure, but it did pop up in the first issue of Final Crisis, which was a big DC event book and a weird place for it to appear. (I can’t spot it in the digital version, and my print versions are currently in reorganization limbo, so I’ll have to follow up later.)

I’m sure “ass” all on its lonesome appeared in a Code book at some point, because it sure turns up all the time in superhero comics now. I don’t think “dick” (as in “that guy’s a…” not “whoa, look at the size of that…”) got the CCA stamp at any point, but I think it’s been in the mainstream superhero books of late on rare occasions.

With the Code dead, we’re not going to get to watch more naughtiness still slip through its net (like a “hey, fuck you, Wolverine!” in Uncanny X-Men #Reboot+), but maybe more past examples will show up. I would be curious as to what the earliest examples were of each word appearing in a Code-approved (or at least otherwise standard mainstream superhero comic, either Pre or Post-Code).

I hope I don’t come across as some pearl-clutcher, aghast at such salty language appearing in Little Billy’s comics. Honestly, I’m just amused by how standards change over time, or (in the likely case of the Trek comic) just get bypassed entirely on occasion. It does make it harder for me to just tell a parent “oh sure that comic’s fine for your kid!” only to have that parent march up to me a few minutes later and point out someone in the story shouting “oh hell, my damn balls!” or whatever.

Not that it was easy before, like that one mom who objected to reprints of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man comics because the women were “too sexy.” …Um, are we talking about the same Steve Ditko here…?”

The nexus between price and value.

§ February 27th, 2023 § Filed under publishing, retailing, this calls for hyperspeed, this week's comics § 15 Comments

Nexus by Mike Baron and (usually) Steve Rude has been one of my favorite comics for a long time, dating back to almost, but not quite, the beginning of the series. I started reading Nexus (and Baron’s other book, Badger) when First Comics started publishing them. Fortunately, this was relatively early in both titles’ runs, so picking up the relative handful of previous issues published by Captial Comics wasn’t so onerous a task. However, I did pick up First’s trade paperback reprinting the original three Nexus black and white magazines, instead of buying all the originals. (I did eventually get the third magazine, because of the included flexidisc.)

So anyway, I’ve been a fan for a long time, and look forward to any new material featuring Nexus. After a bit of a dry period, we got some serialized stories in the 2011-4 run of Dark Horse Presents (reprinted as the Into the Past TPB), the Nexus Newspaper Strips TPB (which I think reprints material produced through Kickstarter or something similar, someone correct me), and there was also that 3 or 4 issue run (depending on how you count it) published in 2007 or so by Rude himself.

And then, this past week, we got a new Nexus graphic novel, Nefarious. It’s written by Baron, and illustrated by Richard Bonk, who does a good job, I think, and you can see sample pages over at Dark Horse’s site.

The story is relatively simple…Nexus gets accidenntally stranded on what amounts to being a prison planet without his powers. And, as it turns out, the prisoners may not deserve to be there. It moves quickly, with Nexus gathering allies (and encountering one strange old “friend” that I hadn’t expected to see again) and, probably not a spoiler, going after the person responsible for these unjust imprisonments (and worse).

It feels like classic Nexus, like the pre-First era, in that events are almost…dreamlike in their progression, no time is wasted on long exposition or explanations. Sometimes it is to the detriment of the narrative (like, I’m not sure entirely what happened when Nexus had to prove his identity to a pair of aliens early on…maybe I’m forgetting something from the original series involving that particular race), but overall it’s a fun read.

My main issue with this release is the format and cost. While it’s marketed as a “64 page hardcover” the story itself is 54 pages, with 8 pages presenting black and white copy-free artwork from that story, and a final page with an ad for the newspaper strip book. I know this is a format Dark Horse has used in the past, like with some standalone Hellboy stories (such as 2016’s 56-page Into the Silent Sea for $14.99), but $17.99 for this book seems…just a little too much. Maybe there are publishing and/or economic reasons for not just releasing this as a staplebound one-shot for, I don’t know, $6.99, where it would likely have stronger sales off the new comics rack.

I’m sure “longer shelf life” is a big part of it, and getting it into bookstores, too. But it was bit of a sticker shock when I saw that price. I’m not trying to pick on the Nexus book here, as this format at $14.99 I feel like was pushing it. $17.99 just seems like going a little too far, even with consideration for inflation and such. As a store owner, I have to consider perceived value, what prices would my customers consider reasonable for certain items. This has been a problem as comic periodical prices slowly creep up and up, but graphic novels have, at least, seemed to maintain that price/perceived value balance, more or less. It simply seems to me that this Nexus book is too far on the “less” side, which does a good comic a disservice.

Also you should find a copy of McCloud’s Destroy!! while you’re at it.

§ February 22nd, 2023 § Filed under cheese dip, indies, publishing § 19 Comments

Ray Cornwall asks regarding Scott McCloud’s Zot!

“I know there’s a trade of the B&Ws, but are they newer versions that should be read over the originals?”

As of now, The Complete Black and White Collection remains the definitive reprinting of that run of stories. However, it should be noted that there’s a two-part story from issues #19 and #20 that was drawn over McCloud’s layouts by Chuck Austen that is not included in its completed form. Only McCloud’s layouts are included. Also not reprinted are “#10 1/2,” the mini-comic drawn by Matt Feazell, and the full-sized “#14 1/2” also by Feazell.

One caveat is that, while otherwise this book reprints these stories as they originally appeared in print, the actual page size of the paperback is slightly smaller than the original comics. That’s the only real major change between the two presentations. So if I get what you’re asking, Ray, no, it’s all pretty much the same.

I am not sure of the printing status of this particular volume…Diamond Distributors doesn’t have it, but it appears readily available from Amazon.

The color issues were reprinted in a single volume by Kitchen Sink Press in 1997. Needless to say, it’s out of print. I checked out Amazon and there was a copy for (egads) $195, but other copies were available for $35 and up, so shop around a bit here and on eBay and such.

There are two more volumes in this Kitchen Sink book series that reprint up to issue #27 (except for the Austen-drawn #19-20). These are pretty much supplanted by the Complete Black and White volume.

I should also point out that Eclipse Comics published a small trade of the first four color issues, in case you wanted to know.

So basically, if you want the complete print Zot! comics collection, either buy all the comics individually (most of which I have available for sale at my shop right now, almost all signed!), or you buy that first Kitchen Sink trade, the black and white collection, the original print copies of #19 and #20, and the two Matt Feazell thingies.

Print, I said. Which leads me to what adam has to say

“I discovered zot thru scott’s website in the 90s. has anyone ever collected that series? don’t know how youd print that amazing episode thats just about falling thru the sky tho”

Adam is referring to the Zot! webcomic published at Comic Book Resources a good couple and a half decades ago.

It’s never been put into physical print, especially that one chapter adam mentioned with the long fall panel, designed for scrolling on a screen more than being divvied up across several pages in a book. I suppose it could be put in a single hardcover or something, though, as Scott himself notes, the artwork is a little “jaggy” and may not present well outside this context. Frankly, though, I think it looks fine. Printing it with jaggies an’ all would give it a solid retro feel, I think!

So, Zot! — it’s good, you should read it!

• • •

Speaking of collected editions, the newest issue of Groo: Gods Against Groo, #3, has the latest word from Mark Evanier about reprint collections of our favorite The Wanderer. And that word is “they’re looking into it,” basically trying to find a print format that 1) won’t cost you all your kopins, and 2) wouldn’t break any bones if you dropped it on your foot.

My personal feeling is that mimicking Marvel’s current “Epic Collections,” which are thick softcovers that contain about, I don’t know, about 15 to 20 issues or so, and usually costing about $40, may be the way to go. There are, what, at least a couple hundred Groo comics, plus the two graphic novels, plus other appearances here and there. That is about the equivalent of around 13 or 14 of Marvel’s Epic collections. Feels doable to me, but I’m not a comics publisher who’d have to pay for all that and then, hopefully, keep them reasonably in print.

At least that seems within reason, and that Sergio and Mark are actively trying to figure it out is good news. Sergio Aragones is a master cartoonist and that so much of it is out of print is a real shame. Thankfully the individual issues remain relatively inexpensive when you find them, so at least there’s that if nothing else.


§ February 17th, 2023 § Filed under marvel, publishing § 16 Comments

So I was talking with customer Sean the other day (Sean you may know from his appearances in my comments sections here) about this odd coincidince from a couple of Marvel comics released in 1984.

First off was Fantastic Four #271, released in June of that year, featuring story and art by John Byrne. Featured is a tribute tale in the style of the old Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko “pre-superhero Marvel” monster comics, in which a strange creature or ‘nother is menacing the Good People of Earth, and someone (sometimes one lone brave man who may or may not be a scientist) must find a way to defeat it.

In this case, the monster is Gormuu, attacks upon whom only seem to make him larger and more dangerous. Our hero of the hour is Reed Richards, in the years before he and the rest of the Fantastic Four were exposed to cosmic rays and gained their super powers. Here we see Reed decide on a course of action, to the shocked response of a pre-Thing Ben Grimm:

Anyway, Reed sets his plan into motion, causing Gormuu to grow, GROW, which is cool with Gormuu at first, until he notices…

…eventually expanding into nothingness, as while he was growing in size, he was not increasing his mass. As such, his atoms dispersed across the universe and Reed chalks up his first(?) kill.

Two months later, in Avengers #250 (by Roger Stern, Al Milgrom, and, for this section of the comic, Roy Richardson), the titular team find themselves in conflict with the villain Maelstrom, who is also absorbing energy to increase his strength.

Vision realizes Maelstrom’s devices and controlling the flow of energy to him and that flow must be stopped:

…but Starfox (Starfox?) sez, he sez that the energy must instead continue to flow, and while the Scarlet Witch is incredulous, Vision, who knows a little something about mass density, picks up what Starfox is puttin’ down:

And couple pages of shouting and punching later, the plan is in full effect, and Maelstrom finds the extra energy he was getting is now out of control:

…and as you can see, totally pulls a Grommu, in fairly similar panels, and also expands into that aforementioned nothingness.

Again, these comics were only released two months apart, so it was a coincidence that the conclusions were so similar, surely. Unless of coursre this was an elaborate practical joke by the creative teams. The big surprise is that while the books were produced by two different editorial offices at Marvel, so the similarities wouldn’t have been caught, Big Jim Shooter not catching this ahead of time seems like it would be unlikely, unless it was too far along in the process to change up the stories. I have no idea, and am not even sure if anyone at Marvel ever acknowledged this happened. Did this ever get mentioned in interviews or reviews of the day that anyone saw?

I was a regular Fantastic Four reader at the time, and had picked up Avengers #250 because I would pick up extra-sised/anniversary issues of pretty much anything whether I regularly read the book or not. I can still remember being taken a little off guard by that Avengers conclusion, thinking “didn’t I just see that same ending somewhere” and realizing it was just a couple of months prior. Again, a weird coincidence, and one I’ve thought about for quite a long time.

Specal thanks to Bully, the atomically-dispersed bull, for his production assistance!

Well, that was certainly a word balloon to blow up and display on my site.

§ January 27th, 2023 § Filed under publishing § 10 Comments

Last time, Daniel T said

“Not familiar with the Preacher example. More on it?”

And I didn’t think I was going to be able to track it down easily, as I couldn’t remember where in the run it appeared, but find it I did! I was talking about obvious lettering alterations/fixes in comics, usually replacing something else (like in Wednesday‘s example of “ass” being replaced with “butt” in Animal Man #1. So here is this splash page, as originally printed in Preacher #61, May 2000:

And here is the same splash as it appeared in trades and digitally:

A closer look at the word balloons in question, original first:

Then fixed (slightly pixelated as I had to resize it from a screenshot):

Now I don’t know for certain that this was adjusted dialogue, replacing something that, knowing Garth Ennis, was probably much worse. But when I see lettering like that which clearly does not match the lettering in the rest of the book, there’s some sort of thing going on. (And I know I didn’t provide examples of other lettering in the original issue #61 here, but I assure you it’s a lot neater than what’s in that word balloon.)

Also, it sort of looks like “arse” was a replacement in that first word balloon, but the whole thing looking as it does makes it appear as if the balloon’s entire contents were replaced.

And the fact that it was relettered again for later editions says to me that it was some kind of fix that needed refixing.

Anyway, just thought that was interesting, a production thing that stuck in my head for the, what, 22 years since this was published.

Elsewhere in the Preacher run, there’s a sequence where Starr (that’s the bald-headed fellow on the page shown here) is making comments at some gathering that I think were also relettered after the fact, so I’ll see if I can’t find those, too.

On a slightly related, and marginally less sweary, note, Chris V noted that Animal Man wasn’t technically a “mature readers” book, the likely reason why “ass” was verboten in the dialogue. And he’s right, of course, that we didn’t start going whole hog with George Carlin’s Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television ’til the Vertigo label was applied.

My counter was that he was correct, but it seemed as if DC was a tad bit…edgier in their more upscale direct-sales-only monthlies than in the regular newsstand books. Not necessarily in language (hence the editing in Animal Man, but certainly in other ways, such as the complained-about-at-the-time violence in Omega Men, the moral ambiguity of Vigilante, and something a little more contemporary to Animal Man, the nekkid ghost-sex scene in Spectre (which as I said to Chris, was meant to be a little more “obscured” than it was except for a production error, but even still, more than you’d get in a newsstand comic).

Basically, the books, being sold only through comic shops, weren’t Comics Code-approved, and boundaries were certainly tested. I also noted Vigilante may have had slightly harsher language early on, but taking a quick pass through the first three issues I know I read at the time, I didn’t spot anything particularly egregious, but maybe I’m conflating those with the later two-parter by Alan Moore. I’ll have to do a little more research here.

Interestingly, just a few months after that Animal Man #1 was released, DC’s newsstand-available and Comics Code-approved Justice League International #23 came out with this panel:

…so who knows what was even going on at DC at the time. And don’t get me started on the Comics Code approving use of the word “shit.”


§ January 25th, 2023 § Filed under dc comics, publishing § 12 Comments

So I was rereading the Grant Morrison/Charles Troug Animal Man series, because why wouldn’t I, when I noticed something I hadn’t noticed before…or paid so little attention to way back when because I didn’t have a blog at the time on which to mountainize this molehill.

I like spotting the seams of comics production in the finished product, sometimes. Like the occasional coloring note accidentally left in the margin of a page. Or, for an example I can actually show you, when an entire caption is added to a page to keep a story from entirely slagging a company’s bread-and-butter.

And then there’s just simple word replacement, like in Animal Man #1 (1988) where the word “ass” (presumably) is substituted with the word “butt.”

Here are a couple closer looks, where it’s easy to see the lettering mismatches with the rest of the book, along with the slightly-off spacing.

It’s just a little amusing, is all, not quite on the level of some very obviously (and frankly, sloppily) relettered dialogue on a splash page in Preacher where some purposefully vulgar content replaced something that must have been even more appalling. But even mentioning Preacher adds to the contrast between this early prudishness language versus the oh, the places they’d go once the Vertigo label gets slapped on the front cover.

It also somewhat brings to mind this bit from Mr. Show (please pardon the presence of a Jan. 6 participant):

I’m of two minds here, where either they could have changed it back, because really does it matter; or it’s fine as it is, a visible measure of restraint in a medium that often excessively goes in the opposite direction in the name of “mature content.”

Not to go all “I’m not a prude, but” on you here — I mean, I’ve been known to say “poop,” quietly, when no one else is in the room — but there have been times when it felt like someone on a “not for kids” comic book really wanted to test that freedom and give us wall-to-wall naughty words, which can get a tad wearying after a while. I mean, it’s fine, whatever, but reading “fuck” thirty times in the space of a couple of pages kinda undermines whatever impact it has. (Except in the Nick Fury comics by Garth Ennis, where somehow it’s hilarious.)

This is all just to say it was, in its way, quaint to see the word “butt” pasted into that Animal Man comic. Grant Morrison and editor Karen Berger, I appreciate your “butts!”

Er, you know what I mean.

And yes, Mighty Samson #32 was released in a three-pack, I didn’t mention that in the body of the post.

§ December 19th, 2022 § Filed under publishing § 20 Comments

So one of the funnybooks I acquired in that recently-purchased collection was this:

I didn’t pay it much mind at the time, because “oh hey it’s another Mighty Samson comic, no biggie.” But taking a closer look it has this blurb at the top of the front cover:

…my initial thought was “is this a comment on the fact that Mighty Samson was, against all odds, still running?” But no, this is in fact a series called Gold Key Champion, one that I really can’t recall seeing before (or I did see before, at some point at the previous place of employment, and just don’t remember).

Well, sort of a series, anyway, as it ran two whole issues, of which the Might Samson installment was the second. And as I was pricing it up, I saw the note in the Overstreet Price Guide that it was “half-reprint,” which intrigued me. A look at the Grand Comic Database entry shows that the cover story “The Night Glowers,” illustrated by Don Heck, is new to this publication. Said cover appears to be new to this comic as well.

This comic was released in 1978, between issue #31 in 1976 (which has new material) and #32 in 1982 (reprinting issue #3 from 1965, but with a new cover by Dan Spiegle). I am presuming this new Don Heck-illustrated story was maybe…unused inventory that was put in this Gold Key Champion comic, published to see if there was still a market for these Samson comics? He wasn’t the artist when the series left off, so I don’t know if he’d drawn the story for publication in 1976, or was hired to draw either a new or inventory script for the ’78 release. I’ve no idea, but I can imagine those Mighty Samson completists suddenly alarmed that there’s this other comic outside the main series with new work.

Issue #1 of Gold Key Champion, by the way, features Lost in Space (the Space Family Robinson original-to-comics version, not the “Danger Will Robinson!” TV one – here’s an explanation). Again, it’s half-reprint, with a new story by Gaylord Du Bois and Dan Spiegle, and I also don’t know if this was produced specifically for this book or if it was leftover inventory. Du Bois and Spiegle were the creative team when Space Family Robinson Lost in Space ended with #37 in 1973, so was Du Bois’s story in GKC1 sitting in a file cabinet somewhere for Spiegle to come back and draw five years later? Did they both come back to do a new story? Or was the whole thing ready to go in ’73 and not published ’til 1978? I’m guessing the last.

Anyway, wasn’t that all interesting? …Okay, I know, but I thought it was neat and wanted to ponder a bit about this comic here.

• • •

Don’t forget, I’m still taking your 2023 comic industry predictions! Where are we headed? What’s going to happen? OH MY GOD WHY IS EVERYTHING ON FIRE? Feel free to leave them in the comments to this entry and I’ll cover ’em in January 2024! (And I’ll start going over your 2022 predictions in just a few short weeks!) Thanks, pals!

Size does matter, maybe a little.

§ October 26th, 2022 § Filed under peanuts, publishing § 4 Comments

Was surprised slightly when opening up my Diamond Comics shipment this week (though I shouldn’t be too surprised since I’m the person ordering all this stuff) by the arrival of And A Woodstock in a Birch Tree from Titan Books:

This is, in fact, a facsimile reprint of the original Peanuts Parade book from 1979. Which, by the way, I just happened to have bought back then, having somehow scraped together the necessary $3.95 to acquire it. And as I still have it, here is a pic of that very book purchased by Grade School Mike in the rapidly-receding past:

Now I loved these Peanuts Parade books. I checked every available one out of the school library and the public library, often multiple times. I can still picture these well-worn volumes being held in my hands. I liked these much better than the standard Peanuts paperbacks because 1) they were thicker and had a lot more strips in them, and 2) they were physically bigger, measuring 7 by 10 inches in size.

Hence my surprise when I cracked open that Diamond box and saw the new edition, and its much smaller stature of 5 1/2 by 8 inches. I know you can’t really tell by looking at the scans above, so point your peepers at this pic I took especially for you comparing and contrasting the two editions:

(The back cover of the original features a Sunday strip in color, whereas the back cover of the Titan edition is mostly solid red with a publisher note about this being a facsimile and what strips are reprinted therein.)

Now I realize this, and similar volumes of Peanuts strips, are possibly made redundant by the Fantagraphics Complete Peanuts series. Those are extremely nice, don’t get me wrong, and I’m so glad to have ’em all, but there is a nostalgic value to simply holding a book like this in your hand, original or facsimile. The look and feel, the very format of the volumes, makes them distinct pleasures above and beyond the value of “completeness” that you could otherwise obtain. I have a handful of old oddball hardcover Peanuts strip reprints that I would never get rid of, simply because they’re aesthetically pleasing to me, even if the strips are better curated elsewhere.

But it’s hard to top having my old original and beat-up copy of Peanuts Parade in my hands, connecting me to the ten-year-old I used to be.

Or “Mxyztplk,” if they’re writing about the Golden Age version.

§ October 24th, 2022 § Filed under hulk, publishing § 15 Comments

Okay, let’s see if I can run through a couple of more comments left back in Ye Olden Tymes (i.e. last August):

Wayne sallies…um, in a forward-moving direction with

“Mike, I will send you five dollars in cash if you write a post on the Heckler.”

I AM NOT ABOVE BRIBERY. However, I don’t think I’d read the Heckler since…well, probably when that series was released in the early ’90s. But I did buy every issue, though I’m reasonably certain I gave up my copies to my shop‘s back issue bins when I opened up in 2014. and I just checked, and The Heckler isn’t on the DC Universe app.

But never fear, as I think those comics may yet still linger in the bins awaiting my retrieval. Therefore, Wayne, I will attempt to read the series and see if I have anything to say here about it. A quick look at the Wiki entry reveals…nothing I can recall from the comic, save for his nemesis “John Doe,” but I might only remember him because he’s on one of the covers. Ah well, I guess it’ll be like reading brand new comics to me.

• • •

David Conner continues with

“The mention of Peter David’s Supergirl and Aquaman got me thinking, is there any other writer from the last 40-odd years who feels more ‘of his time’ than Peter David?

“I *loved* his stuff in the ’80s and ’90s, but looking back at it today, it’s more often than not cringe-inducing (using that term which I generally hate advisedly.)”

First off, let me just say it’s high time my browser’s spellchecker stops flagging words like “Supergirl” and “Aquaman.” I mean, I suppose I can add them to the dictionary myself, but whoever programs these things might as well just dump all the superhero names they can into whatever file they go into. Help the world spell “Mxyzptlk” correctly!

But to David’s actual point…yeah, I see where you’re getting at. I have to admit, I’m a bit more charitably inclined towards Mr. David’s writings than the opinions of some of my fellow comics-noscenti. I think his Hulk work still stands up, for example, and his Dreadstar was fun (save for that two-issue bit where he was parodying Trek…oof). And there is other stuff he’s written here and there that I’ve liked, such as Fallen Angel and, yes, Aquaman. Supergirl was a weirdie, mostly because of the premise, but I’d read and liked the whole run. His Star Trek was genuinely great, something of a miracle considering the editorial interference he often faced.

When I think of a certain comic creator being “of his time,” the one that comes to mind for me is Don McGregor, a writer who came to prominence in the ’70s and his very text-heavy work is what I picture when I think of “1970s comics.” Now that’s just a matter of my particular perception, as the man’s still working today, but I think of 1970s comics, in comparison to modern books, as having a lot more captions and dialogue, and I associate McGregor with that particular style.

Now David’s work…I think a primary criticism aimed at his comics is the level of self-aware, and of a certain measure self-satisfied, “cleverness” to his writing. Sometimes it can be subtle-ish (the “brush with Death” in Incredible Hulk), sometimes it can be laid on a bit thick (that Trek parody in Dreadstar I’d mentioned) and as with most humorous and/or clever writing, Your Mileage May Vary. It may be that this sort of thing didn’t age well, with it seeming New and Fresh at the time, but as the years have passed and writing styles and trends and tastes have changed in comics, looking back reveals the some of the obviousness of the artifice. Much in the same way we look back at Alan Moore’s early work and kinda wince a little at some of those scene transitions (which, to be fair, folks were kinda gripin’ about even back then — like in Killing Joke where we see a “Fat Lady” poster at the circus, and then we move to the Joker’s memory of his pregnant wife. Hoo boy).

I would say something like your reaction to David’s writing, David [Conner], is different from something like Stan Lee’s writing in the 1960s. That is Very Much of Its Time, but it may be more that Lee’s style defined that time and is considered perfectly acceptable, versus people trying to write “for the hip kids” back then whose writing did not age quite as well (cough cough 1960s Teen Titans cough). Before The World’s Biggest 1960s Teen Titans Fan gets mad at me, those are fine, the art’s beautiful, but you have to admit that DC’s “hello, fellow kids” scripting house style was clunky as all get out, rarely reaching the masterful level of smarm Lee was able to churn out.

David’s work of late, revising the Maestro character from the Hulk, and Genis from his run of Captain Marvel, seem to have been reasonably well received. I didn’t read the Genis title, despite having read and enjoyed those CMs, only because I’m so backlogged with comics I try not to add more titles unless I absolutely have to. That said, having been a Hulk reader for decades, I of course picked up the Maestro titles, and I think they’re a perfectly fine extension of the character’s story. Nothing in there struck me as being overly…Peter David-y, in the sense of what people who don’t care for his previous work don’t care for.

Now New Fantastic Four maaay be a bit much for those same people, with the banter amongst the main characters and a particular gag involving another character’s name. I picked up this series too (what with the Hulk being in there, and the FF tie-in as well) but I’m only a couple of issues in, since it hasn’t felt quite as compelling a read as the Maestro books have been. Eh, what can you do.

I do still think David’s Hulk run remains a high point in that character’s history, and I still have fond memories of much of his other work. However, I do realize if I go back and reread some of it, I may find myself in a similar position of being more aware of the seams now that some time has passed. Or I may enjoy it just fine for what it is, even if it is an artifact of the period in which it was produced. (Remember “wilding?”)

But you know what? Peter David got this dirty joke into a Popeye comic and I can’t hate him for it.

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