Posts Tagged ‘comics’

Why Comics, Part 2: The Study of American Culture

Tuesday, August 13th, 2013

Back at the end of May, I attempted to explain when and why I got into comics, and for the most part, that entry (click here) gave a good, solid, down and dirty explanation of the when. It even touches on the why, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. What it fails to do, however, and what I hope to do here, is explain more about what keeps me spending $30-$50 a week on comics (a budget that is extreme, to say the least).

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Comics Code: Alive and Well Until 2011

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Comics CodeI’ve been reading a LOT of books about comics lately: four in fact, at one time.  I read one chapter a day and then switch to a different book the next day. This is working really well because the four books I’m reading all have to do with the history of comics, and more specifically, the era of the “comics code”.  In fact, I’m even reading Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. Hard to have an opinion on something if you’ve never read the source, so I’ve been slogging my way through that one as well (my original opinion has not changed much).

This weekend I found myself on the final three chapters of Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code by Amy Kiste Nyberg, and I decided I wanted to finally FINISH one of the four books, and I did.  My impressions of the book? Honestly I was thrilled and relieved to find that it was not just another rehashing of Fredric Wertham and his crusade against the comic book industry.  Of course he’s included and in fact has his own chapter, but the entire book is NOT focused on him.   (more…)

The Silver Age of DC Comics: 1956-1970

Monday, July 15th, 2013
DC_Silver_Front.jpeg

Front Cover

As promised, here is a short review of Paul Levitz’s latest text on DC comics, The Silver Age of DC Comics: 1956-1970.  This book is of particular interest to me because of my research in the origins of Batwoman.  As I’ve mentioned before, Batwoman made her debut in 1956 in Detectives Comics #233 and continued off and on until 1979 when she was brutally murdered.  I had high hopes that this text might expand a bit on Batwoman and perhaps have further insight into her creation and the role she played in the new Bat Family.  I’m afraid I was extremely disappointed in that area, but here is what I found after looking through this text and once again comparing it to the behemoth 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Myth Making.

First, as in the text I reviewed earlier on Levitz’s The Golden Age of DC Comics, one thing that is completely new to this text is an interview conducted by Levitz’s.  This time, he interviews comics’ great Neal Adams.  I read this interview and enjoyed it, but I certainly would not have bought the book for that alone.  I then went through and compared the actual written text, essay if you will, dealing with the silver age of comics to that which is found in the 75 Years text.  As with The Golden Age text, I found little difference.  It is pretty much word for word what you’ll find in 75 Years.  

DC_Silver_Back.jpeg

Back Cover

I then randomly went through the rest of this text, which has only images and captions, and compared that to the larger 75 Year text.  Usually, just when I thought I had found a unique picture, I would flip a few pages one direction or the other and find the same picture in the other text, sometimes enlarged or sometimes reduced.  With that said, I do believe there are MANY additional silver age pictures in this text.  In 75 Years Levitz’s uses 192 pages to discuss and illustrate the silver age of comics.  But this newer text, The Silver Age of DC Comics, is a whopping 391 pages.  That’s nearly 200 pages more (if you take out the first 13 pages for the interview).  Those pages have to contain images that 75 Years does not.

Bottom line, if you love comics as much as I do, you’ll definitely enjoy Paul Levitz’s The Silver Age of DC Comics, even if you already own the 18 pound brick of 75 Years.  It’s well worth the money and a little easier to handle weight and size wise.

A Look at Batgirl #22 and A Fresh Start for an Old Superhero–Miss Fury #s 1-4

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Batgirl
Anyone interested in DC’s New 52 Batgirl, should head on over to DestroyTheCyborg (destroythecyb.org) and check out my review of Batgirl #22.  There are definitely some surprises in this issue, and it left me wondering what the future for Batgirl might hold.  I don’t want to spoil anything here, so check it out at your local comics store and be sure to read the review.

Miss FuryAlso, for anyone who harkens back to the Golden Age of comics, you might want to check out Dynamite’s take on an old superhero, Miss Fury.  We are now up to issue #4, and I attempt (struggle might be a better word) to review issues 1-4 over at DestroyTheCyborg.  I am impressed with the writer and illustrator’s apparent knowledge of the original Miss Fury who started her career in 1941 as the Black Fury before a name change and a promotion to comic book form a year later duped her Miss Fury.  The new creators try to capture it all in this thrilling, but often confusing retake.  Check it out.

Writing for DestroytheCyborg

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

I’m so excited to be working with the folks at DestroytheCyborg (destroythecyb.org), reviewing some of my favorite comics.  My first post was yesterday on Animal Man #21. My second review should appear today on Captain Marvel #13, one of my favorite comics right now.  I was so excited about doing these reviews yesterday that I didn’t even get the chance to read Batwoman #21.  That will be first on my list of things to do tonight.

Keep an eye open for my review of Paul Levitz’s Silver Age of DC Comics, 1956-1970 in the next few days.

Review: Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956

Friday, June 14th, 2013

photo

Impressive cover, right? I was so excited when I saw this series on Amazon. I know Paul Levitz’s work and I hoped this would be everything I’ve come to expect from him. And in one way, it is. But only because I’ve read most of it before. Let me explain.

Lesson number one for me here is to ALWAYS click the “show more” in61fK6bDqf4L._SY300_ the book description. I read the first paragraph and was sold. The book arrived yesterday, and I anxiously tore into the package. The cover is, as mentioned, impressive. I opened the book and began eagerly scanning the pages, and that is when it hit me. These images seemed really, really familiar to me. At that moment I did not have time to investigate further because I needed to head out the door for an appointment, but as soon as I returned, I pulled up the coffee tabel, went to my “laptop” desk, and grabbed my copy (all 18 pounds of it) of 75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking also by Paul Levitz. I placed both books on the coffee table (takes a fairly stable table to hold them both) and began a page by page comparison.

To be fair, The Golden Age of DC Comics, 1935-1956 has an awesome interview by Paul Levitz with Joe Kubert. Beyond that, however, the books are very, very similar. The text portion is often reduced somewhat from the 75 Years version, but most of the pictures are the same. To change things up a bit, they have taken smaller pictures from 75 Years and enlarged them in The Golden Age and vice versa. Had I clicked the “show more” under the description on Amazon, I would have read “Expanded from the Eisner Award–winning XL book, 75 Years of DC Comics . . . .” I probably still would have been sold because it states that it is expanded, and in one way, I guess it is because it does have the interview with Joe Kubert. Other than that, however, I’ve notice more reductions, at least in the text, than expansions.

I currently have the other two, The Silver Age of DC Comics and The Bronze Age of DC Comics, on pre-order. Whether or not I will keep them on pre-order is yet to be determined. There are several reasons a person might wish to order these books: 1) if they have not bought 75 Years of DC Comics, 2) you don’t wish to spend $130+ on the larger book, 3) you’re not sure how you would handle a 720 page book that weighs in just over 18 pounds and is 15.6 x 3.5 x 11.4 inches big. While The Golden Age is a large book at 400 pages, 5.5 pounds, and 12.8 x 1.7 x 9.4 inches large, it’s still a LOT more reasonable to handle than 75 Years. I’m also hoping that as I continue to look through the book, I’ll notice further additions of images not included in 75 Years. If I do, then yes, I’ll keep the other two on order. And even if I don’t, I have to admit that handling this book is much easier than trying to deal with 75 Years.

If you own 75 Years and decide to buy The Golden Age, please do not be disappointed that much of the content is the same. Go in knowing that and you’re sure to love The Golden Age as much as 75 Years.

Where Do I Stand on Fredric Wertham?

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

First, let me say that I was raised in the south, so there are several ‘rules’ that have been drilled into my very being: 1) respect your elders (which Wertham would have been), and 2) NEVER speak ill of the dead (which Wertham certainly is, since 1981).  With that being said, I will attempt to convey what I think about the role he has played, and yes, continues to play, in the comics industry.

For those who may not be sure of who Fredric Wertham is, he is most famous for his book entitled Seduction of the Innocent: The InfluencePicture of the cover of Fredick Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent book of Comic Books on Today’s Youth, published in 1954.  But you do not have to pick this book up to learn about Wertham’s role in attempting to ban comic books in the late 1940s and 50s. Read any book dealing with the history of the golden and silver age comics and you will get your share of Wertham.

To be fair and not judge just on what others have said about Wertham, I bought Seduction and have been reading it, along with three other books dealing with comics history, over the past week or so. I’m about a third of the way through the book, and to be honest, I’m wondering how I will survive the final two-thirds. The reading is repetitive and lacks any type of documentation or bibliography. Wertham bashes comics relentlessly and provides his “case studies” as evidence of the damage that comics were doing to the youth of his day, responsible for creating, almost single-handedly it would seem, juvenile delinquency.

While reading all of these texts, I ran across a piece from 2012 by Carol L. Tilley entitled “Seducing the Innocent: Fredric Wertham and the Falsifications That Helped Condemn Comics”. Tilley gained access to Wertham’s case files that were donated to the Library of Congress at the time of his death, and after sifting through boxes of notes, she has managed to prove that Wertham did indeed take ‘liberties’ with his research.

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No More “Dirty Rotten Coppers” in Comics or american comic book chronicles, 1960-64 Review

Wednesday, June 12th, 2013

My research into comics history has lately been engrossed in the 40’s and 50’s to see what really spurred the industry to create the Comics Code of 1955, with all of it’s prohibitions against violence and gore in comics.  Those who study comics have all heard the name of Fredic Wertham and his contributions to the anticomics movement.  Even though he’s not one-handedly responsible for the code, and in fact stated that a code was NOT enough, he did play a key role in the adoption of the code by most publishers.

But this post is intended to step back from that particular era, and look at the publication of a new series of books that deal with the history of comics.  The series is entitled American Comic Book Chronicles.  The two books that have thus far been published are The 1960s: 1960-1964 and The 1980s: 1980-1989.  This post will look specifically at the 1960-1964 book, or the first decade after the establishment of the Comics Code.

BookFirst, let’s discuss the overall appearance of the book, which, quite frankly, is about all I’ve had time to look at thus far.  I think the cover could be quite deceiving for many.  It is basically 8 1/2 x 11 and looks like it could be extremely text heavy.  We all know that when it comes to books, the first two things that grab our attention are 1) The title and 2) the cover.  The book is hardbound and the cover is glossy, two things that gives the reader hope that the inside will be more than just another text based history with a few black and white images in the middle (like so many books on the history of comics are).

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do you own silver or bronze age dc comics? Help needed!

Friday, February 1st, 2013

As mentioned in the previous post, I am searching for all comics that have an appearance of either Earth One’s Batwoman or Kathy Kane.  Yesterday, in pursuit of this goal, I visited MSU’s Comics Collection and was able to get pictures of the stories with Batwoman/Kathy Kane from

  1. Batman #116 – June 1958
  2. Batman #122 – March 1959
  3. Batman #125 – August 1959
  4. Batman #126 – September 1959
  5. Batman #128 – December 1959
  6. Batman #133 – August 1960
  7. Batman #135 – October 1960

I think this is a fairly good start, but I’m not there yet.  In Batman’s alone I still need 15 comics.  I’ve been watching them on Ebay, but they often go for much more than I can afford on a teacher’s salary.

Here is where you come in, if you have any of the following issues I would appreciate it if you would contact me using the “Contact” button on the left.  I do NOT need the actual comics, I just need HD pictures of the cover, letters to editor, and the actual story in which Batwoman/Kathy Kane appears.  This is not ALL of the comics I need, but I’ll post the others in another entry.  Thanks for your help.

[table caption=”Comics Needed” width=”450″ colwidth=”20|100|150″ colalign=”left|left|center|left|right”]
No.,Comic,Number,Month,Year
1,Batman,#105,February,1957
2,Batman,#129,February,1960
3,Batman,#139,April,1961
4,Batman,#140,June,1961
5,Batman,#141,August,1961
6,Batman,#145,February,1962
7,Batman,#147,May,1962
8,Batman,#150,September,1962
9,Batman,#153,February,1963
10,Batman,#155,May,1963
11,Batman,#157,August,1963
12,Batman,#159,November,1963
13,Batman,#162,March,1964
14,Batman,#163,May,1964
15,Batman,#233,August,1964
[/table]

 

New Series

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

Went into Clem’s this morning and asked Alec what was new and exciting this week. He jokingly replied “everything”, but then took me to the shelves and showed me i Love Trouble by Kel Symons and Mark A. Robinson.

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I figured why not give it a try. Obviously, this was the first comic I cracked open to read. So here are my first impressions.

  • I love the art work. It’s some what cartoonish while maintaining its seriousness.
  • The comic is a bit dark, both in appearance and content.
  • It’s hard to follow. A lot of first issues are though because there is so much to convey to get you into the story.
  • The paper is not the glossy stuff you find in most comics today, but neither is it the newspapery type stuff you find in Fables or Fairest. It’s kind of like a light weight smooth card stock and has that smell as well. Been a long time since I cracked open a comic and it smelled like a book.
  • The art is contained within a border of between 1/2 inch to an inch: not precise, but consistent.

Overall, I liked the issue and I will be buying the second one. We’ll see how it progresses from there. Whether or not it all begins to fall together.