Friday, March 27, 2020

Three Comics for 15¢

Small neighborhood grocery stores back in the late 1960s and early 1970s would sell comic books. Those stores did not sell the comics in the usual way of one by one for the cover price. Rather, three comics were wrapped together in plastic and the package sold for fifteen cents. Comics in that time frame cost between 12¢ and 25¢ each, so three for 15¢ was a grand bargain!

But there was a catch.

The three comics in the plastic wrapper were purposely defaced (and I hope you'll agree that "purposely defaced" is a wonderful oxymoron similar in nature to the phrase "necessary impurity" that readers of Silver Age Green Lantern comics became so familiar with). "Purposely defaced" in this situation is not as bad as it sounds. The three comics were not ripped to shreds and there were not handlebar mustaches drawn on every character's face. No, the defacing of the comics was limited to the title of the comic being (neatly) torn off the front cover. The three-packed comics were otherwise perfect and this phenomenon led to the invention of the comics grading designation of "one-fourth coverless." I have even owned some 1950s comics that were 1/4 coverless; those comics are great for reading (just not as great for collecting since they are, after all, defaced).

Many thanks to hayfamzonders Robert Beerbohm and Joseph Lenius for sharing the accompanying page from 1953! It explains exactly why the three-packed comics were purposely defaced: wholesalers tore the title strip off the covers of comics that were unsold at the retail level and those strips were returned to the publisher so credit for the unsold could be received. The wholesaler was supposed to destroy (or "pulp") the rest of the defaced comic. The accompanying page does not mention that the wholesalers would sometimes not pulp the defaced comics, instead sending them on a path to be sold in the three-packs for 15¢.

I read MANY great comics that came to me by way of those three-packs! For 15¢!

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Stargirl, not Stargirl

Geoff Johns began writing comics in 1999-2000 and his earliest credits were JSA and also Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.; the latter was a startup comic featuring Stargirl as a continuation of the story of The Star Spangled Kid, a character who got his start in Star Spangled Comics back in the Golden Age of Comics. It's quite doubtful that Mr. Johns ever foresaw his Stargirl going on to star in her own television show. Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. ended its fifteen issue run in the middle of the year 2000.

Geoff Johns then went on to find great success as a comics writer, finding great acclaim on such venerated series as The Justice Society and The Flash and Teen Titans. I feel his run on Green Lantern contains the most excellent issues of that often-great series.

Fast-forward through the years and all the TV success DC has had, and 2020 sees the announcement that Mr. Johns' Stargirl character will star in her own CW Network series this spring. Great news!

But then what starts appearing but commercials on television for some new movie entitled Stargirl. Huh?

This Disney Stargirl has nothing to do with the DC Stargirl. Coincidences do happen in the comics world (such as how The X-Men at Marvel and The Doom Patrol at DC began their series practically simultaneously in the early 1960s, and likewise how Swamp Thing at DC and Man-Thing at Marvel premiered almost at the same moment in the early 1970s), but I'm fairly certain Geoff Johns' jaw dropped when he first heard of this out-of-the-blue Stargirl other than his. Even my jaw dropped!

Friday, March 13, 2020

Those Judges on Black Lightning

In this week's season finale of the Black Lightning television show on the CW Network there was something both noteworthy and fun. I won't spoil any of the plot points of the episode but I will give a head's-up that two of the judges in the closing court scene were not played by actors.

Here's a hint.

The were referred to by name on-screen as Judge Isabella and Judge Von Eeden.

That's right! Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden! The two co-creators responsible for DC Comics' Black Lightning #1 back in 1977!  The two gentlemen had speaking-role cameos on the show starring their creation!

Very nice!

What are Graphic Novels?

Every so often the Jeopardy TV game show dips its toes into the world of comics. That was the case the other day, and in Final Jeopardy no less!

As can be seen on the television screen shot I photographed, that day's Final clue answer was 'A 1964 essay coined this 2-word term for "artistically serious" comic books & endorsed it over "Illustories" & "Picto-Fiction" '

The correct clue question was 'What are Graphic Novels?'

Two of the three contestants answered correctly. Good for them!

Friday, March 06, 2020

The Fantastic Four Wall

I feel I'm going not too far out on a limb to say that comics fan  
Steve Andreski likes The Fantastic Four. As you can see here, 
Steve has a gallery of FF-related original artwork commissions
in his home. 
Very nice!

You can follow Steve on twitter over here
He podcasts about Marvel Comics so 
you might definitely want to look him up!

Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Numerous Jam Commissions of Martin L. Greim

A few weeks back I wrote about and showed the above drawing of Superman, the only known teaming of penciller Curt Swan and inker Wally Wood. I wrote that the artwork was commissioned by a fan whose identity I did not know. Then I received some information in the mail!

Mark Evanier let me know that the mystery fan was in fact Martin L. Greim. How about that! I knew the name and maybe you do also. Fan artist and writer Martin Greim was well-known in the 1960s and 1970s for publishing his Comic Crusader fanzine and in the early 1980s he crossed the threshhold into professional comicdom when he created Thunderbunny. Mr. Evanier published this obituary for Mr. Greim a few years back.

Mark's message to me included further information. It turns out that the oblong-shaped drawing containing the Swan/Wood Superman centerpiece was but one of SIX comics-artist-jam-drawings that were commissioned by Martin Greim! It seems as if this was the gentleman's collecting motif. I did just a little bit of digging and it is my pleasure to share with you the complete slate of Jam Commissions of Martin L. Greim. Please enjoy!

Monday, February 17, 2020

Born 100 Years Ago Today!

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Alex Toth's Newspaper Strip

The 1965 film How to Murder Your Wife starred Jack Lemmon as fictitious cartoonist Stanley Ford who concocted nefarious ways to perform the title deed.

In the two weeks prior to the theatrical release of the film, a comic strip titled Steve Bentley, Secret Agent credited to "Stanley Ford" was published in The Hollywood Reporter and in some newspapers. There were twelve of these daily strips produced and in fact they were drawn by comics master Alex Toth!

Here are four of the strips, and you can view the full set of twelve over at The Alex Toth Archives.