10 Things I Like About September ’10 Comics (and a couple I’m not so crazy about)

DC Comics Year by Year

DC Comics Year by Year

by KC Carlson

As mentioned briefly last month, we are now at that point in the calendar year where publishers begin showing off their special books for the coming holiday season. So, keep in mind that many of the items we’re talking about here may not actually ship until October or November. Also, with the high cover price of some of the items listed here, this might actually be more of a “Dear Santa…” idea list than anything else.

1. DC COMICS’ 75th ANNIVERSARY ITEMS

DC has always had a fascinating history, so expect a flood of stuff — some of it quite cool — over the coming months to celebrate the company’s 75 years. For example, DC Comics Year by Year: A Visual Chronicle. Published by DK, this 352-page oversized hardcover tells the entire history of DC Comics, from the dawn of comic books in 1934 to the present. Month by month, it details the debuts of DC’s biggest characters and titles, as well as major trends and events, all profusely illustrated with classic art, covers, and photos. I love chronological histories like this, as you can put so much perspective by knowing not only when something was first published, but also what else was created or introduced around the same time. Written by Daniel Wallace, with an introduction by Paul Levitz and cover by Ryan Sook.

DC Super Heroes Ultimate Pop-Up Book

DC Super Heroes Ultimate Pop-Up Book

DC Super-Heroes: The Ultimate Pop-Up Book: This book is primarily designed for kids, but you may want one for yourself, as it has some really impressive stuff, including a light-up Bat-Signal, a cosmic Justice League of America battle scene, a twirling Lasso of Truth, and a transparent Invisible Jet! Over 25 impressive scenes are included, all designed by pop-up engineer (I want that degree!) Matthew Reinhart. 12 pages. (Yes, you read that right. There must be multiple pops to a page.)


DC Postcards

DC Postcards


DC Comics: 75th Anniversary 100 Postcards Set: This very affordable set of 100 postcards features classic covers from throughout DC’s long history. Samples shown include the Golden Age, Silver Age, and the various modern ages (Copper? Bronze? Iron? West Coast? Dark? Platinum? It’s the new Metal Men!).

Music of DC Comic

Music of DC Comic

The Music of DC Comics: 75th Anniversary Collection CD: Collecting much theme and incidental music associated with DC characters over the last 75 years — all on one disc! (Notable omission: The Adventures of Superman TV theme). Here’s a rough track listing:

1. March of Superman (from the Fleischer cartoon) (1941)
2. Theme From Superman (Main Title) – John Williams
3. Lois and Clark TV Theme
4. Save Me – Remy Zero (Smallville theme)
5. Batman Theme (60s TV Show) – Neal Hefti
6. The New Adventures of Batman Theme (70s cartoon) – Jeff Michael
7. The Batman Theme – Danny Elfman
8. Molossus (From Batman Begins) – Hans Zimmer
9. The Batman (Theme, 2004) – The Edge
10. Batman Beyond Cartoon Theme
11. Batman: The Brave and the Bold Theme Song
12. Justice League Unlimited Theme
13. Justice League Animated Theme (2001) – Kristopher Carter
14. Super Friends Animated Theme (1970s) – Hoyt S. Curtin
15. The All New Superfriends Hour Theme (1977)
16. Teen Titans Filmation Cartoon Intro (1967)
17. Teen Titans Animated Theme (2000s) – Andy Sturmer/Puffy AmiYumi
18. Green Lantern Filmation Cartoon Theme (1970s)
19. Green Lantern First Flight Theme (2009) – Robert J. Kral
20. Wonder Woman TV Theme (1970s) – Charles Fox
21. Wonder Woman Animated Theme (2009) – Christopher Drake
22. Aquaman Filmation Cartoon Intro (1970s)
23. The Flash Filmation Cartoon Intro (1970s)
24. The Atom Filmation Cartoon (1974)
25. Hawkman Filmation Cartoon (1974)
26. Plastic Man Comedy/Adventure Show Theme – Dean Elliot
27. Swamp Thing Cartoon Theme

2. BOOKS ABOUT COMIC CREATORS

Al Jaffee's Mad Life

Al Jaffee's Mad Life

Al Jaffee’s Mad Life: Jaffee is Mad Magazine’s most prolific contributor, having appeared in over 450 issues of the magazine. His work first appeared in 1955, and he’s only missed one issue since 1964. His most famous creation — now a cultural icon — is the Mad Fold-In. Unbelievably, Jaffee never sees his painted image actually folded until it is printed in the magazine. He uses one of the oldest and reliable tools available to artists to do the actual layout — his brain. It has served him well over a long and distinguished career. Al Jaffee’s Mad Life is the story of that life and career, one of bringing millions of childhoods to untimely ends with the knowledge that parents are hypocrites, teachers are dummies, politicians are liars, and life isn’t fair. I, for one, thank him for it. Al’s “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” has been a template for my worldview, and my admiration for his crazy inventions (second only to Rube Goldberg’s) has been the blueprint for how my brain works. Buy this book.

Art of Jim Starlin

Art of Jim Starlin

Jim Starlin: A Life in Words and Pictures: A 312-page illustrated bio of the man who redefined “cosmic” for the comics industry, beginning with Marvel’s Captain Marvel and Warlock in the 1970s and exploding into creator-owned epics in the 80s and 90s. Starlin is one of those special talents capable of single-handedly creating his own universes. This is his story. Co-published by IDW and Desperado (the folks responsible for the incredible Art of Brian Bolland and Art of P. Craig Russell books). Also available in a signed & numbered edition.

Brush With Passion

Brush With Passion

Brush With Passion: The Life and Art of Dave Stevens: First published in hardcover in 2008 and now out of print (and going for huge collector prices), this is a new trade paperback printing and will probably sell just as quickly. This 288-page, full-color, lavishly illustrated book covers the life and career of beloved and influential Dave Stevens, best known for his creation The Rocketeer. Includes many iconic paintings and previously unpublished artwork.


3. THE SIMPSONS

Simpsons World

Simpsons World

Simpsons World: The Ultimate Episode Guide HC: This mammoth 1,200-page slipcased hardcover features comprehensive episode synopses for 20 seasons of Simpsons (128 of the shows never before covered!). Plus the largest compendium of Simpson facts and trivia ever compiled! Over 400 character profiles! Screen shots! The best quotes! Song lyrics! And all the secret stuff you may have missed! Plus there are master lists of celebrity guest stars, every “D’oh” or “Mmm…” Homer ever uttered, couch gags, church marquee messages, Krusty the Clown merchandise, chalkboard quips, character designs, production art, and much, much more. Like a complete filmography of Itchy & Scratchy cartoons and a loving tribute to Troy McClure! And best of all — it weighs 8.8 pounds! (Which probably also qualifies it as a weapon!)

Treehouse of Horror

Treehouse of Horror

Bart Simpson’s Treehouse of Horror #16: It’s Halloween (Really? I haven’t even seen fireworks yet, much less Labor Day brats!), and it’s time for the Annual fear-fest that is the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror. Our hosts this year include Evan Dorkin with a story about Professor Frink called “The Glavin”, Peter Kuper embracing his inner-Poe with “The Tell-Tale Bart”, Kelley Jones and Kelvin Mao telling the story of Flanders’ ultimate revenge on Homer, and Lemmy (from Motörhead) taking Homer on a heavy metal trip to Hell! 48 pages from Bongo, the comic company not afraid to scare their customers to death!


4. MARVEL COMICS


Fantastic Four

Fantastic Four

I’m enjoying a lot of Marvel titles these days, but nothing new is jumping out at me this month. There’s a bunch of Wolverine and variant titles (not variant covers, variant Wolverines — like Daken and X-23) and lots of Thor miniseries. (I wonder if there’s a movie coming out? Anybody hear anything?) If you like vampires and mutants — you’re in luck! (I’m kinda vamped out these days, thanks.) Think I’ll stick with the Age of Heroes titles I’m really enjoying like Fantastic Four (which adds artist Steve Epting this month) and the offbeat Thunderbolts (who now count Man-Thing (?!) as a member). The two main Avengers titles (Avengers and New Avengers) are reading like new epics in the making, and both Avengers Prime (Bendis & Davis) and The Children’s Crusade (by Heinberg & Cheung) are solicited this month. Lotsa good stuff!

Acts of Vengeance

Acts of Vengeance

Marvel Books: Acts of Vengeance from the early 1990s is being Omnibused (is that a word?) this month. This early Marvel crossover had a now-quaint premise — villains decided to attack heroes they didn’t normally fight — and the series offers up some great moments, but it doesn’t really hold together as a whole, since it didn’t really have an anchor title. Still, it’s cool that it’s all collected in one 744-page hardcover, with either a new cover by Alan Davis or a reprint cover from John Byrne . . . The earliest Thor stories by Lee and Kirby (and a cast of other creators) from Journey Into Mystery are also on tap in a new 768-page Omnibus . . . The Marvel Masterworks line celebrates its landmark 150th volume by starting a “new” series to reprint — Marvel Team-Up, the then-revolutionary new series that teamed-up Spider-Man (and occasionally the Human Torch) with the stars of the Marvel Universe . . . The classic hardcover reprint of the month is Captain America: War & Remembrance, which collects the entire Roger Stern/John Byrne run — including the classic Captain America for President story — in one 224-page volume.

5. THE BALLAD OF HALO JONES

Ballad of Halo Jones

Ballad of Halo Jones

First appearing in serialized form in the pages of 2000 A.D. in 1984, and later compiled into many and varied collections — all out of print — The Ballad of Halo Jones remains one of Alan Moore’s earliest, most popular, and in-demand works. Originally developed in response to the testosterone-fuelled strips in 2000 A.D., Moore hoped to create a strip based on a ordinary, unremarkable woman. He didn’t always succeed on those counts — Halo’s subsequent adventures are both remarkable and frequently intense — but the series reportedly did attract a large number of female readers, was also embraced by male fans, and ultimately was considered one of 2000 A.D.’s best strips. I was immediately taken in by the beautiful artwork of the vastly underrated Ian Gibson. Reviewer Regie Rigby sums up the impact of Gibson’s art perfectly: “Halo’s world was a vastly different future to those envisaged in 2000 A.D.‘s other stories. Ian Gibson’s singular artistry gave everything a sort of rounded organic look, but also absolutely breathtaking beauty. Anyone who feels the way to make comics sexy is to draw small clothes and big breasts should take a look at Gibson’s work on Halo Jones…”

This is another in the long line of comic’s great unfinished projects. It was originally envisioned as a nine-book saga, spanning Halo’s life from adolescence to old age, but only three were done. What was completed is remarkable, yet bittersweet. This new collection from Rebellion/2000 A.D. is 202 pages.

6. BLONDIE VOLUME 1

Blondie

Blondie

IDW’s and The Library of American Comics latest classic newspaper comic strip series (Gosh, they have a lot. Hope they can keep them all going!) is Chic Young’s Blondie. Now a gag-a-day humor strip about a typical American suburban family, primarily focused on goofy dad Dagwood, it was totally a different strip when it first debuted on September 8, 1930. Then, the unmarried Blondie Boopadoop, a flapper who hung around in dance halls, was the star of the strip. (Boopadoop came from the lyric of the popular song “I Wanna Be Loved by You” which later became the signature tune for another popular flapper — Betty Boop.) Early on, Blondie met Dagwood Bumstead, the heir to a wealthy, high society fortune, and they fell in love. The aristocratic Bumstead parents were aghast that their son was dating beneath their class and ultimately refused him permission to marry the blonde.  But the two young lovers eventually hatched a hysterical plan — Dagwood goes on a hunger strike! (Ah! the origin of those ridiculous sandwiches! He’s still hungry from the hunger strike!) Eventually the two were wed — in the classic strips that close this volume — but their problems were far from over. More than two years of daily strips are collected in this 280-page volume, and many of the earliest strips have never been collected!

(Editor’s note: If you want to know more about the Blondie collection, come back Thursday, July 1 for Roger Ash’s interview with Library of American Comics’ Associate Editor, Bruce Canwell, which will be profusely illustrated with classic Blondie art.)

7. THE BEST AMERICAN COMICS: 2010

Best American Comics 2010

Best American Comics 2010

Every year, series editors Jessica Abel and Matt Madden ask a well-known guest editor to assist them in selecting the Best American Comics of the period passed. This year, the “name” editor is Neil Gaiman, who will help scour the world of comics (meaning graphic novels, pamphlet comics, newspapers, magazines, mini-comics, and the internet) for the best stories from 2010. So simple. With Gaiman on board this year — a  more “mainstream” choice than usual — there’s a possibility that the choices (always a secret prior to publication) might be slightly less esoteric than in some previous years, although those looking for a book full of Green Lantern or Deadpool stories (or any superhero comics, for that matter) will probably be disappointed. A 416-page hardcover book, published by Houghton Mifflin.

8. POPEYE: THE BEST COMIC BOOK STORIES OF BUD SAGENDORF

Popeye Vol. 1

Popeye Vol. 1

Historians generally agree that there are three classic presentations of Popeye the Sailor Man: The original comic strip (Thimble Theatre) by E.C. Segar, the animated cartoons by the Fleischer studios, and the 1940s and 50s comic book stories written and drawn by Bud Sagendorf, Segar’s long-time assistant. IDW and Yoe Books is collecting the very best of them in a full-color, 176-page hardcover. Bob Greenberger will give you a detailed run-down of the stories in this book and the history behind them in an upcoming blog post. Bob’s other topic this month will be Dynamite’s Vampirella Archives Volume 1, reprinting the classic Warren magazine. (And how often do you see Popeye and Vampirella in the same paragraph? Gotta love comics!)

9. DC BOOKS

New Teen Titans: Games

New Teen Titans: Games

New Teen Titans: Games: You can now check off another title in the list of “Announced But Never Published” comics projects. Begun in the late 1980s and shelved by DC before being finished, New Teen Titans: Games is now (somewhat unbelievably) nearing completion and scheduled to hit shelves in early November. Set in the Titans continuity of the 1980s, this stand-alone graphic novel by classic Titan talents Marv Wolfman and George Pérez features a “lost tale” of a deadly game with a mysterious villain — with NYC as the game board and the Titans as the playing pieces. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see Pérez art pages produced in the 80s side-by-side with the dynamic work he’s producing today. It’s not just a 144-page graphic novel — it’s a missing piece of comic history.

Great Darkness Saga

Great Darkness Saga

Legion of Super-Heroes: The Great Darkness Saga Deluxe Edition: Re-presenting THE classic Legion story in the way it always should have been — with the great stories that surrounded that groundbreaking epic, harkening back to the day when the Legion was one of DC’s best-selling titles. Collecting Legion of Super-Heroes #284-296 and LSH Annual #1 in a 416-page hardcover collection for the first time by the Legion team supreme of Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen.

Boy Commandos

Boy Commandos


Going way back in time is The Boy Commandos by Joe Simon & Jack Kirby. Created by the team in 1942, combining kid gang comics with stories based on wartime British commandos, it became one of DC’s most popular features, appearing in Detective Comics, World’s Finest Comics, and 36 issues of its own title. Many of those issues reportedly sold over a million copies per issue; it was among DC’s three best-selling titles (along with Superman and Batman). Despite penciling five pages a day of the feature, Kirby couldn’t draw all the stories, so other creators (including a young Gil Kane) were brought in. This collection contains S&K stories from Detective #64-73, World’s Finest #8-9, and Boy Commandos #1-2. 256 pages.

Power Girl

Power Girl

If you’re looking for something a little more current, you can’t go wrong with Power Girl: Aliens and Apes, collecting the final Amanda Conner, Justin Gray, and Jimmy Palmiotti issues (#7-12), which neatly wraps up everything that the team began. It’s a truly wonderful and heartwarming collection of stories, which sadly might be the very last time we actually see anything like this from Depressing Comics, who would rather push their “no fun” agenda and publish more stories about hallucinatory dead cats. (That’s okay, there’s still plenty of fun comics elsewhere across the comics landscape, and I hope Justin, Jimmy and Amanda find a new — and better — home soon.)


10. IN BRIEF

Weird War Tales

Weird War Tales

Darwyn Cooke writes and draws a short story for DC’s Weird War Tales one-shot this month, as well as providing the cover . . . Two interesting Archie projects this month: Abrams is producing a slipcovered hardcover collection of the recent Archie Marries… story with lots of extras including script outtakes, never-before-seen sketches, annotations, vintage covers, and exclusive creator interviews. One of those will be with artist Stan Goldberg, who is featured in IDW’s new Archie: Best of Stan Goldberg collection of classic reprints, topped off with an introduction by Stan Lee. (Goldberg was a very important part of the formative years of Atlas and Marvel Comics before his Archie career began in the 1970s.) The collection also includes photos, bonus pin-ups, and other material from Goldberg’s own collection . . . Fans of Chip Kidd’s unique books on pop culture should be on the lookout for Shazam: The Golden Age of the World’s Mightiest Mortal. This 246-page hardcover features 300 full-color illustrations of all the incredible early merchandising (toys, statues, buttons, etc.) associated with the Big Red Cheese in his heyday of the 1940s and early 50s.

KC CARLSON would like to remind everyone that Mr. and Mrs. Westfield don’t actually think that DC Comics stands for Depressing Comics, but they don’t really mind too much if he does. Because that way they don’t have to buy him any Christmas presents.

USER COMMENTSOne Response

We'd love to hear from you, feel free to add to the discussion!

  1. Roger Stern Says:

    Thanks for the nice words about Captain America: War & Remembrance, KC!

    I would just like to remind everyone that it’s being Advance Solicited in September — but it goes on sale December 1st. (Just in time for Christmas!)