COLLECTIVE THOUGHTS FOR MAY 2014

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson.

KC Carlson. Art by Keith Wilson.


by KC Carlson

PICKS OF THE MONTH

witzend

witzend


witzend (Fantagraphics): Launched in 1966 by writer-artist Wally Wood, witzend was an irregularly published series (some might call them pro-zines, others consider them underground comic books) where Wood and his very talented friends — including Frank Frazetta, Al Williamson, Reed Crandall, Ralph Reese, Archie Goodwin, Angelo Torres, Steve Ditko, Harvey Kurtzman, Bill Elder, Art Spiegelman, Don Martin, Vaughn Bodé, Jim Steranko, Jeff Jones, Howard Chaykin, Trina Robbins, Bernie Wrightson, and dozens more — would produce, basically, whatever the hell they felt like. Wood most likely came up with the title of the publication after the formulaic constraints, censorious nature, and onerous lack of creator’s rights in mainstream comics got to be too much for him — and his friends probably all felt the same way, most of the time.

Wood produced four issues of witzend, and then he sold it to Bill Pearson (who provides the introduction to this new collection) for one dollar. Pearson published nine further issues (with a series of co-publisher/editors) for a total of 13 (although #13, published in 1985, did not have the witzend logo on the cover). Wood remained in the witzend masthead as founder and Editor Emeritus.

In addition to the wonderful work published, witzend was also a key marker in the history of creator rights. It was part of the slow process of comic artists realizing that they were entitled to more control and ownership of their own work. It’s a shame that Wood, who died in 1981, wasn’t around to see the progress, and there’s still obviously some way to go.

In May, Fantagraphics is publishing the complete witzend as two hardcover volumes in a decorative slipcase. Since the original issues are impossible to find — I’ve actively been collecting fanzines for over 35 years, and I’ve only managed to find two, the last two — this new collection is as close as this industry comes to finding buried treasure. It also includes a complete history of the publication by Patrick Rosenkrantz. Highly recommended. 608-page, oversized (8.5 x 11), two-volume, slipcased B&W (with 26 pages of color) hardcover collection.

See below for more Wally Wood work.

The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo

The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo


The Sakai Project: Artists Celebrate Thirty Years of Usagi Yojimbo (Dark Horse): Anyone who has followed comic news in the last few months knows that Usagi Yojimbo artist Stan Sakai and his wife Sharon are facing gigantic medical bills. This book is both a celebration of Stan’s best known creation, Usagi Yojimbo, by a who’s who of fantastic comic artists, as well as a benefit book, with all proceeds going directly to Stan and Sharon. Here are just a few of the amazing artists donating pieces to this project: Arthur Adams, Michael Allred, Sergio Aragonés, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Dave Gibbons, Michael Golden, Matt Groening, Adam Hughes, David Mack, Alex Maleev, Mike Mignola, Bill Morrison, Paolo Rivera, Tim Sale, Walter Simonson, Jeff Smith, Paul Smith, and William Stout. More information, including more contributing artists, can be found at this page. 112-page 9 x 12 color hardcover. Available in July. Great autograph catcher for convention-goers! Order as many as you can! Plus, this looks like it may only be released to the comic book market. Don’t assume that you can pick it up someplace else later!

Usagi Yojimbo: Red Scorpion

Usagi Yojimbo: Red Scorpion


Also, there is a new Usagi Yojimbo collection this month: Red Scorpion collects Usagi Yojimbo #132-138 and is available as a TPB or a limited edition hardcover. Introduction by George Takei. Oh, my! 184-page 6 x 9 in B&W. Available in July.

THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC BOOK COLLECTIONS

Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights

Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights


Showcase Presents: The Great Disaster featuring the Atomic Knights (DC Comics): Long ago announced and much-delayed, this book finally makes its debut, during the month in which DC is apparently killing off the future of the New 52! Awesome promotional stunt! Snark aside, this book is truly wondrous, especially if you love lovingly obscure looks at post-Apocalyptic (aka “The Great Disaster”) life in the DCU. Probably the best known thing here is the wonderful Atomic Knights series by John Broome and Murphy Anderson, originally appearing in every third issue of Strange Adventures beginning with #117 (June 1960). It was one of DC Comics’ very best supporting features of the era and much beloved. The rest of the contents (see below) are pretty complex to explain, so I’m going to let Bob Greenberger do that, as soon as he recovers from learning that his entire life in comics was only a dream.

It’s interesting that this will be the first Showcase volume to present a text feature. In this case, one about DC’s post-Apocalyptic stories (many of them in this volume) originally published in the DC fanzine Amazing World of DC Comics #12. I wasn’t able to take a fresh look at that article (written by Paul Levitz, so you know it will feature LSH content), but if I’m recalling correctly, it basically says that the different series contradicted each other while offering solutions on how this might be rectified, some of which were eventually incorporated into actual later DC stories. This book collects stories from many issues of Strange Adventures, 1st Issue Special #1, Hercules Unbound #1-10, Kamandi #43-46, lots from Weird War Tales, House of Mystery #318, Superman #295, House of Secrets #86, 95, and 97, and The Unexpected #215 and 221. 576-page, future-altering, B&W softcover. Available in June. The perfect book for the glove compartment of your Cosmic Treadmill.

The EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales Volume 3

The EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales Volume 3


The EC Archives: Two-Fisted Tales Volume 3 (Dark Horse): Collecting issues #30-35 of the war comic that mattered, the classic edited by Harvey Kurtzman. Featuring work by Kurtzman, Gene Colan, Johnny Craig, Reed Crandall, Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ric Estrada, George Evans, Joe Kubert, John Severin, and Wally Wood! Coloring by Marie Severin. Forward by Kubert. 216-page color hardcover. Available in July.

Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue and Gray

Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue and Gray


Jeph Loeb & Tim Sale: Yellow, Blue and Gray (Marvel) Collecting Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s classic “color” miniseries: Daredevil: Yellow (#1-6), Spider-Man: Blue (#1-6), and Hulk: Gray (#1-6). They retell each character’s origin in new and exciting ways while being true to the early days of the original tales. This classic material is long overdue for collection. Perhaps Marvel had been waiting for the obviously never gonna happen Captain America: White project by the same creative team. (Remember, that had an extremely promising #0 preview issue in 2008. Of course, now that people are talking about it like this again, maybe it will somehow spontaneously and magically appear… It IS one of Marvel’s great “lost” projects.) However, the three projects we are getting in this collection are all classics and deserve to be sitting on your bookshelf! 540-page oversized color hardcover. Available in August.

Marvel Firsts: The 1980s Volume 2

Marvel Firsts: The 1980s Volume 2


Marvel Firsts: The 1980s Volume 2 (Marvel): More of the first Marvel Comics of the Millennial Generation! Collecting Questprobe #1, West Coast Avengers (1984) #1, Kitty Pryde & Wolverine #1, Iceman (1984) #1, Rocket Raccoon #1, Gargoyle #1, Secret Wars II #1, Squadron Supreme #1, Longshot #1, Nightcrawler (1985) #1, Balder the Brave #1, Punisher (1985) #1, X-Factor (1986) #1, Firestar #1, Dakota North #1, Star Brand #1, Strikeforce: Morituri #1, and material from Epic Illustrated #26 (part one of “The Last Galactus Story”). This is the perfect book for you if you like reading only the first chapter of an ongoing story. Includes work by John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Dave Cockrum, Walter Simonson, Mike Mignola, Arthur Adams, Roger Stern, Sal Buscema, Mike Zeck, J.M. DeMatteis, Jim Shooter, Mark Gruenwald, and many others. 488-page color softcover.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude


Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude (Marvel): Knocked out by the recent trailer for the upcoming GotG film, but have no idea who these characters are? No worries, Marvel’s got a collection for you, with stories specially selected to provide background for the concept and characters. Collects Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude #1-2, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy Infinite Comic #1, Iron Man (1968) #55, Strange Tales (1951) #181, Incredible Hulk (1968) #271, and material from Tales to Astonish (1959) #13 and Marvel Preview #4, featuring work by Jack Kirby, Jim Starlin, Dan Abnet and Andy Lanning, Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema, and others. 168-page color softcover. Available in July. He is Groot.

Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Rarities Volume 1

Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Rarities Volume 1


Marvel Masterworks: Marvel Rarities Volume 1 (Marvel): Presenting some true rarities and obscurities for hardcore Marvel fans, including stories about mystic hero Dr. Droom, the cosmic Watcher, and solo stories of arch-villain Doctor Doom (featuring art by Wally Wood and Gene Colan!). Here’s the line-up!

* Amazing Adventures (1961) #1-5 starring Dr. Droom (later renamed Dr. Druid).

* Tales of Suspense #49-58: “Tales of the Watcher” — Initially SF stories narrated by the Watcher, but beginning with the stories in #53, they’re about the Watcher and his people.

* Silver Surfer (1968) #1-7: More “Tales of the Watcher”, but really retold SF and monster stories with new art.

* Marvel Super-Heroes (1967) #20, an expansion of Doctor Doom’s origins, and #23, a Tales of the Watcher story originally planned for Silver Surfer #8.

* Astonishing Tales (1970) #1-8 — Dr. Doom stories that are here reprinted in color for the first time in the US; their previous Essentials appearances were in black and white.

Plus, the book is packed with amazing extras from the 1960s peak of the Marvel Age: original Marvel Merry Marching Society memorabilia; rare pinups, posters, and prints; and more. If you love obscure Marvel stories, this Masterworks will be pure nirvana for you! 344-page color archival hardcover. Available in August. (Thanks to the Grand Comics Database for info!) Bob Greenberger will have more on this book soon.

The Phantom - The Complete Series: The Charlton Years Volume 3

The Phantom – The Complete Series: The Charlton Years Volume 3


The Phantom – The Complete Series: The Charlton Years Volume 3 (Hermes Press) is being resolicited. Previous orders have been cancelled. Please reorder if you still want this collection, now available in May (or so).

Secret Files of Dr. Drew

Secret Files of Dr. Drew


Secret Files of Dr. Drew (Dark Horse): In 1949, some of Will Eisner’s most talented “ghosts” — writer Marilyn Mercer and artist Jerry Grandenetti — produced a remarkable horror series based on an idea by Eisner that was kind of a precursor to DC’s Phantom Stranger. Only thirteen episodes were ever produced, and all are collected here, with a new introduction by Michael T. Gilbert. 160-page color hardcover. Available in July.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: The Best of Wally Wood

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: The Best of Wally Wood


T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents: The Best of Wally Wood (IDW): Wally Wood was the primary creative force on this classic Tower Comics series from the 1960s, and this volume offers a heapin’ helping of his memorable stories and covers for the title. The contents were chosen by fellow T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents creators, and the introduction is by Michael Uslan. 148-page color hardcover.

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn

Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn


Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: Trail of the Unicorn (Fantagraphics): Some great Carl Barks adventures set in frigid climates (how timely) are in this new volume of stories from 1949-1950, including “Luck of the North”, “Land of the Totem Poles”, and “Serum to Codfish Cove”. Uncle Scrooge guest-stars, as does Gladstone Gander (in his first full-length duck story). In the title story, Donald and the boys must head out to Shangri-Lala to obtain a rare unicorn for Scrooge. Problem is, what do you do with a unicorn once you catch one? Beautifully reproduced comic book classics, plus notes and commentary by Barks scholars, and an introduction by Jeff Kinney, best-selling author of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. 216-page color hardcover. Always recommended.

Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics Volume 2

Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics Volume 2


Walt Kelly’s Pogo: The Complete Dell Comics Volume 2 (Hermes Press): This follow-up volume collects the complete Albert the Alligator (Dell Four Color #105 and #148) and all four issues of Pogo Possum. Combined with the first volume, that’s the complete color Dell Pogo! Some of these comics predated the 1948 debut of the well-known Pogo newspaper strip, so if you’re only familiar with those, there may be some surprises for you in these four-color stories. As usual for Hermes Press books, this will also feature historical articles and commentary, and the comics will be digitally restored to perfection. 320-page color hardcover. Available in August.

Also Available:

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 5

Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 5


Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 5 (Dark Horse): More classic work by Kazuo Koike and Goseki Kojima. This volume collects two stories from Lone Wolf and Cub Volume 10, and all of Volumes 11 and 12. Cover by Frank Miller and Lynn Varley. 712-page B&W 5 x 7 softcover. Available in July.

The Chronicles of Conan Volume 27

The Chronicles of Conan Volume 27


The Chronicles of Conan Volume 27 (Dark Horse): Collects Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian #206-214 and Handbook of the Conan Universe, never before collected. Features work by James Owsley, Val Semeiks, Alfredo Alcala, and more. 224-page color softcover. Available in July.

THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS

Archie: The Swingin' Sixties: Complete Daily Newspaper Comics: 1963-1965

Archie: The Swingin’ Sixties: Complete Daily Newspaper Comics: 1963-1965


Archie: The Swingin’ Sixties: Complete Daily Newspaper Comics: 1963-1965 (IDW/LoAC): The latest in this great series collects more than 800 strips from April 1963 through the end of 1965, all by Bob Montana, Archie’s first artist. They are all gag-a-day strips, so there’s not much to talk about beyond the usual hijinx, high school craziness, and Montana’s pretty girls. One thing to watch for — the strip more frequently used Riverdale High’s faculty than the comic books did, including the seldom seen Miss Shapely, Mr. Flutesnoot, and Miss Beazly. 296-page 11 x 8.5 B&W hardcover. Available in June.

Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays Volume 2, 1923–1925

Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays Volume 2, 1923–1925


Gasoline Alley: The Complete Sundays Volume 2, 1923–1925 (Dark Horse): Presenting the second in a series that will collect, in chronological order, all the Sunday pages of the celebrated newspaper strip — now almost 100 years old! Reprinted in full color, using the King family’s collection of proofs, this giant-sized second volume collects every Gasoline Alley Sunday strip from 1923 through 1925. 128-page 12 x 16 color hardcover. Available in July.

Johnny Hazard - The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 3: 1947-1949

Johnny Hazard – The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 3: 1947-1949


Johnny Hazard – The Complete Newspaper Dailies Volume 3: 1947-1949 (Hermes Press) is being resolicited. Previous orders have been cancelled. Please reorder if you still want this collection, now available in May (or so).

LOAC Essentials 5: The Bungle Family 1930

LOAC Essentials 5: The Bungle Family 1930


LOAC Essentials 5: The Bungle Family 1930 (IDW/LoAC): Art Spiegelman on the Bungle Family : “The most underrated comic strip in our history.” Bill Blackbeard: “There has been nothing like it in comic strips since.” Harry J. Tuthill’s The Bungle Family revolves around a squabbling couple, George and Josephine Bungle, apartment dwellers who are constantly at odds with not only each other, but with their neighbors, landlords, relatives, and just about anyone who crosses their path. LoAC says: Perhaps no other comic strip better defines LOAC Essentials’ mission to reprint the daily newspaper strips that are essential to comics history in yearly volumes so we can have an experience similar to what newspapers readers had many decades ago — reading the comics one day at a time. This volume collects all the strips from 1930. 336-page 11 x 4.25 B&W hardcover. Available in June.

BIG BOOKS

Doom Patrol Omnibus

Doom Patrol Omnibus


Doom Patrol Omnibus (DC Comics): This collects all of Grant Morrison’s very odd work on the series that, when it began, wasn’t a Vertigo title. The imprint didn’t exist yet, but the title became one of the initial Vertigo offerings upon the imprint’s launch in 1993 (right after Morrison’s last issue of the series). Morrison’s new character additions included Crazy Jane, the Brotherhood of Dada, Flex Mentallo, and Danny the Street! Art is primarily by Richard Case with covers mostly by Simon Bisley. Collects Doom Patrol #19-63 and Doom Force Special #1, with a new cover by Brian Bolland!

I initially read this entire run (which had just concluded) over a weekend lying in an unfinished attic in New Jersey (Hi, Dale!) that was too small for me to stand up in and with a single light bulb. (I had been learning to edit the Legion of Super-Heroes during the week.) Oddly enough, I also read the initial Arnold Drake/Bruno Premiani Doom Patrol series in a single sitting, after buying the entire run as a single set of back issues. What’s up with that? 1,200-page oversize color hardcover. For mature readers. Available in July.

Mike Mignola's Hellboy Artist's Edition

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist’s Edition


Mike Mignola’s Hellboy Artist’s Edition (IDW): Collecting the first five issues of Mignola’s Hellboy in Hell, as well as some special historical material — the two promotional four-pagers, the ten-page story from John Byrne’s Nextmen #21, “The Corpse”, plus a couple of surprises selected by Mignola. As with all Artist’s Editions, it’s all shot from the original art so you can study every micron! Every page is scanned and printed at the size of the original art, so you don’t even have to squint! 200-page 12 x 17 B&W (but scanned in color) hardcover. Available in June.

Marvels: The Platinum Edition Slipcase

Marvels: The Platinum Edition Slipcase


Marvels: The Platinum Edition Slipcase (Marvel): The ultimate deluxe collection for one of Marvel’s classic (and best!) stories. Written by Kurt Busiek with painted artwork by Alex Ross, Marvels was one of the first projects to put the entire early Marvel Universe — going all the way back to 1939 and the debut of the original Human Torch and climaxing with the shocking and tragic death of Gwen Stacy, Spider-Man’s first love — into historical perspective. Presented through the eyes of photojournalist Phil Sheldon, who dedicated his life to documenting the colorful, yet complex, “Marvels”, he represents the ordinary men and women who view the “Marvels” with a mixture of fear, disbelief, envy, and admiration. Kinda like us.

Alex Ross’ painted artwork is both gorgeous and moving (and loaded with Easter Eggs of notable celebs of the era), and an extensive Ross art gallery is presented as an extra. This is a massively oversized book (larger than an Omnibus), housed in a decorative slipcase. Collects Marvels #0-4. 512-page oversized color hardcover. Available in August.

NOW IN SOFTCOVER

The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952

The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952


The Complete Peanuts 1950-1952 (Fantagraphics): A softcover (and cheaper) reprinting of the original first hardcover volume, with its oddly drawn original Peanuts characters, all the strips from 1950-1952, an introduction by Garrison Keillor, a biographical essay by David Michaelis, and an in-depth interview with Schulz conducted in 1987 by Gary Groth and Rick Marschall. Plus, you get to see Schroeder, Lucy, and Linus as infants, and Snoopy as a puppy! Awww… Amazing stuff that few people today remember (or ever saw!). 360-page B&W (w/spot color) 8.5 x 6.5 softcover. It’s like owning history!

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Archives Volume 3

Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Archives Volume 3


Doctor Solar, Man of the Atom Archives Volume 3 (Dark Horse): Collects #15-22 of the original Gold Key SF series by Paul S. Newman and Frank Bolle. Forward by Mike Baron. 208-page color softcover. Available in July.

Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man Volume 3

Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man Volume 3


Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man Volume 3 (Marvel): Collecting stories from Tales of Suspense #66-83 and Tales To Astonish #82, mostly by Stan “The Man” Lee, “Dashing” Don Heck, and Gene “The Dean” Colan. Features battles with Attuma, Titanium Man, the Mandarin, and Ultimo. Plus, one of Silver Age Marvel’s first crossover epics features Iron Man vs. Sub-Mariner! ‘Nuff Said! Cover by Jack Kirby. 264-page color archival softcover.

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1

Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1


Strange Suspense: The Steve Ditko Archives Volume 1 (Fantagraphics): Back by popular demand in a new softcover format is this book featuring a side to Ditko that readers of Spidey and Doc Strange never saw. In the complete run of stories from 1953-54 (pre-Comics Code and from the first two years of his amazing career), Ditko was conjuring all manner of horrors, including graphic bloodshed, dismemberment, blood-curdling acid baths, and other fun things. 240-page color softcover. Bring large sheets of plastic and whatever else you need to dispose of the bodies.

BOOKS ABOUT COMICS

Flesh & Steel: The Art of Russ Heath

Flesh & Steel: The Art of Russ Heath


Flesh & Steel: The Art of Russ Heath (IDW): This is a giant museum catalog (similar to Wallace Wood: Woodworks) following Heath’s entire career from his earliest days to the present. Much is never-before-seen-art, with many pieces from Heath’s personal archives. Includes his early days at Atlas, EC, DC , Warren, National Lampoon, and Marvel as well as very recent work. He’s best known for his work on DC war comics, especially the Haunted Tank feature and Sea Devils, and he also worked on Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny” strip, but his most-seen work may have been commercial art. He drew the much-used Roman and Revolutionary War battle scenes for toy soldier sets, as seen by millions of Silver Age comics fans. Heath’s entire career is examined here in an intricately researched biography, including a complete index of his amazing work. Text is in both English and Spanish. 320-page 9.5 x 12.25 color hardcover. Available in June.

The Art of Neil Gaiman: A Visual Biography

The Art of Neil Gaiman: A Visual Biography


Also of note this month to specific audiences: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History (Insight Editions, June), The Art of Neil Gaiman: A Visual Biography (Harper Design, May), The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman and Eddie Campbell (William Morrow), and Out of Line: The Art of Jules Feiffer (Abrams, May). Plus, Fantagraphics has a nice price reduction on Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture. If you’re interested, hit the link.

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KC CARLSON: Doing these columns for so long I can remember riding my horse, by candlelight, to all the publishers, to gather all the new comics information. At least this was easier than originally carving the column into stone by hand. (My archives are crazy. I hope I don’t have to move them again.)

WESTFIELD COMICS is not responsible for the stupid things that KC says. Especially that thing that really irritated you.

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