COLLECTIVE THOUGHTS FOR NOVEMBER 2014 PART TWO: COMIC STRIPS, BIG BOOKS & ZAP!

KC Carlson and his editing pen.

KC Carlson and his editing pen.


by KC Carlson

BOOKS ABOUT COMICS

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio

The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio


The Art of the Simon and Kirby Studio (Abrams): The names Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are synonymous with comic books. Together, their partnership (which began in the 1940s) ushered in the Golden Age of comics and greatly influenced everything that followed. The Simon and Kirby Studio created such memorable characters as Captain America and the Sandman and were the first to publish the genres of western, crime, horror, and romance (later appropriated by Roy Lichtenstein for his pop art paintings) in comic books. Over the course of three decades together, they wrote and illustrated several hundred comics, many of which have never been reprinted since they were first published in the 1940s and 50s. This book is organized by genre and covers all aspects of their amazing career, with selection and commentary by Mark Evanier, the foremost authority on the work of Simon and Kirby. All of the images have been photographed from the original art in Joe Simon’s private archive, showcasing the seminal work of Simon and Kirby and their artistry as it has never been seen before. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing some of S&K’s less-reprinted work alongside the obvious selections in this new collection. Also features an afterword by Jim Simon (Joe’s son). 384-page 9” x 12” color hardcover.

The Complete ZAP Comix

The Complete ZAP Comix


The Complete ZAP Comix (Fantagraphics): Part archival release (reprinting all 16 published issues and the never-before-published 17th issue), and part historical document (a 200-page oral history by Patrick Rosenkranz of the publication, with hundreds of photographs and obscure drawings), this is both the biggest (1,100 pages) and most expensive underground comic ever — not to mention “the most historically and aesthetically important comics series ever published.” (Real world, fanboy, real world…) Published as a slipcased set of five hardcover books, this project also includes a new, lengthy introduction by R. Crumb, a custom clamshell portfolio of archival giclée prints of all 17 ZAP covers, the rarely-seen 1974 ZAM mini comic, every ZAP cover, and every ZAP story — all in a limited, never-to-be-reprinted edition.

Work by a who’s who of underground artists is featured, including (of course) Crumb, Rick Griffin, Paul Mavides, Victor Moscosa, Spain Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Robert Williams, and S. Clay Wilson. The first issue is unique for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that none of the material in it was designed to be in the first issue. A completely different first issue was originally prepared by Crumb, but the artwork went missing, most likely stolen. So, not wanting to repeat himself, Crumb drew a completely new first issue. Years later, photocopies of the original first issue surfaced and were eventually published as ZAP #0 (around the time that ZAP #3 was issued). Although it wasn’t the first small-circulation, self-published, satirical comic book to be published, ZAP #1 became the basis for what became the underground “comix” movement of the late 1960s and 70s. That #1 issue featured the first appearance of Crumb’s popular character Mr. Natural as well as the ultimately much-bootlegged “Keep on Truckin’” image that you still see on t-shirts and semi-truck mud-flaps.

Those of you superhero fans who don’t consider underground comics “important”, consider this: Underground comics at first had no distribution system in place. Traditional newsstand distribution was out of the question for a “comic book” designed for more mature readers. (The first issue was originally sold on the streets of San Francisco out of a baby stroller, by Crumb’s wife, Dana.) Eventually, a new system of distribution developed through alternative retailers (such as head shops), and years later, this system was the basis of what became today’s Direct Market that gets your Batman and X-Men and indy comics to you every Wednesday. Good thing that it worked, because if it didn’t, we wouldn’t have seen the traditional comic book industry revive itself in the 1980s, as the leading alternate publishers “taught” Marvel and DC Comics that this alternate distribution was a workable solution (at least for a while) to the constant downward sales spiral of the restrictive newsstand distributors. So, you Sex Criminals fans have R. Crumb to thank for getting that into your hands every month. (Wait, that really didn’t come out right…)

The Complete ZAP Comix is a slipcased, deluxe five-volume 9.25” x 12.25” hardcover set: 1,100 B&W (w/color) pages. Mature Readers.

Marvel Comics in the 1980s

Marvel Comics in the 1980s


Marvel Comics in the 1980s (TwoMorrows): Third in the series of Pierre Comtois’s overview of Marvel Comics’ publishing history, spotlighting key individual issues and storylines from this era of upheaval in the comics industry — with Marvel at the center of the storm! This new book is said to cover Marvel’s final historical phase, when the work begun by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko moved into a darker era that has yet to run its course. (I would both agree and disagree. Certainly, this is not Marvel’s “final” phase.) The 1980s saw Stan Lee’s retreat to the West Coast, Jim Shooter’s rise and fall as editor-in-chief, the twin triumphs of Frank Miller and John Byrne, the challenge of independent publishers, and the weakening hold of the Comics Code Authority that led to the company’s creative downfall — and ultimately the marginalization of the industry itself. (Hmm… Well, that’s one interpretation of this complicated era, sez me …) Comics such as the Chris Claremont/John Byrne Uncanny X-Men, Frank Miller’s Daredevil, the New Universe, Roger Stern’s Avengers and Spider-Man, and the new wave of dark heroes such as Wolverine and the Punisher are all covered, plus much more. I dunno… Could be interesting for starting discussions, and probably a great overview of Marvel’s important 80s stories. But I disagreed with many of the author’s conclusions in his first two books. Caveat emptor. 224-page B&W softcover. Available in December.

THIS MONTH IN CLASSIC COMIC STRIP COLLECTIONS

The Complete Far Side Boxed Set

The Complete Far Side Boxed Set


The Complete Far Side Boxed Set (Andrews McMeel): Originally published as a hardcover collection in 2003, this is now available as a softcover box set with a very attractive (and appropriate) cow-inspired slipcase. If you don’t know what Gary Larson’s The Far Side is, you must live in one of those very rare homes that don’t have yellowing old (but hysterical) panels posted up on bulletin boards or the front of refrigerators. And I feel very sorry for you. You can learn all about it in this three-volume 1,278-page slipcased softcover box set, assuming that you don’t die of laughter while reading it.

Li'l Abner Volume 7

Li’l Abner Volume 7


Li’l Abner Volume 7 (IDW/LoAC): What has been called “the greatest run of Li’l Abner ever” begins with Abner and Daisy Mae on a quest to locate the elusive Stanley Steamer (not the carpet cleaners). Meanwhile, Kickapoo Joy Juice prevents atomic disaster (woo hoo!), while Fearless Fosdick (Al Capp’s hysterical Dick Tracy parody) tackles Anyface and the Chippendale Chair. “Evil Eye” Fleegle and Stupefyin’ Jones (described as “a walking aphrodisiac” — a young Julie Newmar played her in the 1959 film) make their inaugural appearances (not together, thank goodness), and Tenderleif Ericson (a recently unfrozen Viking girl) creates a memorable Sadie Hawkins Day, by Yiminy! But when Abner makes a trip to the Valley of the Shmoon, he finds mankind’s greatest benefactor — and mankind’s gravest threat! (The Shmoos almost took over the world from 1948-1950 — including an appearance on the cover of Time! Look it up!) Looking for the best of Al Capp’s Lil’ Abner? There a lot of it in this volume! 272-page oversize (9.25” x 12”) B&W (w/ color) hardcover. Available in December.

LOAC Essentials Volume 6: Baron Bean 1917

LOAC Essentials Volume 6: Baron Bean 1917


LOAC Essentials Volume 6: Baron Bean 1917 (IDW/LoAC): The New York Journal of Books said that the first volume of LOAC Essentials (Baron Bean 1916) “sets the standard for archival and reprint quality.” LOAC Essentials Volume 6 presents the second year of George Herriman’s much-lauded pre-Krazy Kat masterpiece — a comedy strip about an impoverished English nobleman, inspired by characters from Charles Dickens and Charlie Chaplin. These strips are nearly a century old and are reprinted here for the first time ever. 328-page odd-sized (11.5” x 4.24”) B&W hardcover. Available in December.

The Phantom Sundays Archive: Full Size Half Pages 1939-1942

The Phantom Sundays Archive: Full Size Half Pages 1939-1942


The Phantom Sundays Archive: Full Size Half Pages 1939-1942 (Hermes Press): Collecting the first six Phantom stories by Lee Falk and Ray Moore in their original half-page Sunday section format! (Which, unlike today, was huge!) This archival printing will have the look and feel of the original half-page originals and will be limited to 1,000 copies. Don’t wait! Order today! 900-page oversize (13” x 17”) color hardcover. Available in December. Hopefully.

Pogo Volume 3: Evidence to the Contrary

Pogo Volume 3: Evidence to the Contrary


Pogo Volume 3: Evidence to the Contrary (Fantagraphics): Resolicitation — now available in December! Walt Kelly takes on Senator Joseph McCarthy in the form of wildcat “Simple J. Malarkey” (a controversial move) and more in this collection of the seminal mid-century newspaper strip. The political satire was unheard of in comics strips at the time (except on the editorial page), and newspaper editors threatened to drop Pogo if Malarkey’s face ever appeared again. Kelly’s solution was to put a paper bag over the character’s head. But there’s more than just political turmoil in this volume — con-man Seminole Sam attempts to corner the market on water (which Porkypine’s Uncle Baldwin tries to one-up by cornering the market on dirt!); Churchy La Femme appears in drag to deliver a love poem he wrote, Cyrano style, on Deacon Mushrat’s behalf to hen Sis Boombah; P.T. Bridgeport returns to the swamp in search of new talent; and of course, two rousing choruses of “Deck Us All With Boston Charlie”. This volume presents all of 1953 and 1954’s daily strips complete and in order for the first time anywhere, plus all 104 Sunday strips in lush full color for the first time since their original appearance in Sunday sections 60 years ago. Plus, in-depth “Swamp Talk” annotations by R.C. Harvey! The material is amazing and timeless, and the production/restoration is astounding. Highly recommended. 368-page oversize (7.25” x 10.5”) B&W (w/104 Sunday pages in color) hardcover. Available in December. Get this. Read this. Love this.

Peanuts Every Sunday 1956-1960

Peanuts Every Sunday 1956-1960


Peanuts Every Sunday 1956-1960 (Fantagraphics): A second great collection of Sunday-only Peanuts strips — fully and tastefully recolored (based on the original striking pastel color schemes) and reproduced in an oversize format. (Previous reprintings of these strips have generally been in B&W and at a greatly reduced size.) Linus, Charlie Brown, Pig-Pen, Shermy, Violet, Sally, Patty, and Schroeder are all present, but the rising star is undoubtedly Snoopy. A great Christmas present for kids! (I had Peanuts books under my tree every year up to and beyond college!) 288-page oversize (13.25” x 9.5”) color hardcover.

Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 Paperback Edition

Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 Paperback Edition


Complete Peanuts 1953-1954 Paperback Edition (Fantagraphics): A pretty-much straight reprinting of the original book, albeit with a new, striking cover and in a more affordable softcover format. Still very much in Schulz’s remarkable “early era” when Snoopy was actually a dog and Linus was a baby. Lucy elbows her way into the center of the strip’s action in this volume. Introduction by Walter Cronkite. 320-page, 8.25” x 6.5” B&W softcover. Also available as a gift box set with the first softcover volume (1950-52).

BIG BOOKS & ARTIST’S EDITIONS

Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction Omnibus

Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction Omnibus


Fantastic Four by Matt Fraction Omnibus (Marvel): All of Matt Fraction’s Fantastic Four stories from 2012 and beyond are collected in one complete adventure. Reed and Sue decide that the family needs to relax, so they take the whole gang off on a yearlong vacation, leaving a specially handpicked substitute FF (Ant-Man, Medusa, She-Hulk, and the new Ms. Thing) to be the FF while they are gone. But is this just a fantastic vacation — or is something much more serious going on? Can the Future Foundation adjust to their mentors’ replacements? Features work by Fraction, Mark Bagley, Mike and Lee Allred, Karl Kesel, and others. Collects Fantastic Four (2012) #1-16 and #5AU, FF (2012) #1-16, and material from Marvel Now! Point One #1. 760-page oversized color hardcover. Available in February 2015.

Howard the Duck Omnibus

Howard the Duck Omnibus


Howard the Duck Omnibus (Marvel): Get down, America! A brand-new printing for this very popular, long sold-out Omnibus, due to the surprising and extremely amazing reappearance of the foul-tempered fowl in a recent blockbuster film! (No spoilers!) Features the complete run of the original Howard the Duck series written by the legendary (and much-missed) Steve Gerber! Howard’s dimension-spanning first appearance, the entire run of his first series, plus some rarities are all written by Gerber with art by many fan-favorite artists including Val Mayerik, Frank Brunner, Gene Colan, John Buscema, and Carmine Infantino! Collecting classic stories (including the most amazing “fill-in story” ever produced!) from Adventures Into Fear #19, Man-Thing #1, Giant-Size Man-Thing #4-5, Howard the Duck #1-33, Marvel Treasury Edition #12, and Marvel Team-Up #96. Want to be trapped in a world you never made? This incredible collection is perfect for that! Cover by Frank Brunner (only a single choice for covers this time around). 808-page oversize color hardcover. Available just in time for Christmas, and perfect as a stocking stuffer — especially if you have big feet! (Like Howard!)

Jack Kirby Mister Miracle: Artist’s Edition

Jack Kirby Mister Miracle: Artist’s Edition


Jack Kirby Mister Miracle: Artist’s Edition (IDW): Escape into ecstasy with this new Artist’s Edition of Jack Kirby’s amazing 1970s Fourth World title Mister Miracle! Presenting seven nearly complete issues of the original art from Kirby’s memorable series (specifically issues 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) Plus more! Kirby’s New Gods volume went quickly, so don’t delay on ordering this if you must have it! As with all Artist’s Editions, the original art is scanned in color so it’s like looking at the original art — with all its imperfections, blue pencil, paste-ups, art corrections, and editor’s notes. You’ll probably never get to own the original art, so this is the next best thing! Co-published with DC Comics. 200-page oversize (12” x 17”) B&W hardcover. Available in December. Tell ‘em Funky Flashman sent you!

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 1

Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 1


Green Lantern by Geoff Johns Omnibus Volume 1 (DC Comics): Volume one of a series of Omnibi devoted to collecting all of writer Geoff Johns’ amazing work on the Emerald Crusader, his thousands of allies, and his weird little blue bosses. This volume collects Green Lantern Rebirth #1-6, Green Lantern Corps Recharge #1-5, Green Lantern #1-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-18, Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, Green Lantern Secret Files 2005 #1, Tales of the Sinestro Corps: Superman Prime #1, and Green Lantern/Sinestro Corps Secret Files #1. Artists include Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Gleason, Dave Gibbons (who also writes some issues), Carlos Pacheco, Simone Bianchi, Ivan Reis, Daniel Acuna, and others. 1,232-page oversize color hardcover. Perhaps one of the dozens of little plastic GL rings issued by DC over the years (you know you have a box full of them!) can somehow magically make this book a little less heavy and unwieldy! Available in January. Plenty of time to reinforce your floors!

Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 5

Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 5


Showcase Presents: The Legion of Super-Heroes Volume 5 (DC Comics): Collects Superboy and the Legion of Super-Heroes #193, 195, 197-220, and Karate Kid #1. This is from the evolutionary era of Legion history where the LSH emerges from being trapped as a back-up feature in the pages of Superboy to eventually taking over the entire comic book. Featuring great (and fun!) writing from Cary Bates and the return of Jim Shooter! Plus, longtime LSH writer Paul Levitz debuts, writing the first issue of the Karate Kid spin-off series. Game-changing artwork by Dave Cockrum and Mike Grell. Historically, this is where some actual LSH fans take over the production and direction of the series, eventually turning it into one of DC’s best-selling and most beloved series by its surprisingly large cult of fans. Lots of memorable stories here, including the introductions of popular new characters such as Wildfire (and his moving first appearance as ERG-1), the ill-fated Tyroc, and curiosities like Laurel Kent. The artists go nuts redesigning (and updating!) many of the costumes, and the stories inch toward the epic adventures the LSH will become known for. However, I must point out that DC’s official solicitation copy for this book indicates that this era “introduced new heroes Timber Wolf, Karate Kid, and Wildfire.” Well, one-third correct. Both Timber Wolf and Karate Kid were first introduced years earlier in the series (in stories not in this volume). Does DC not have any knowledgeable people working on (or fact-checking) their Collected Books anymore? Sad to see such errors. 520-page B&W softcover. Available in December.

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KC CARLSON: Nobody disses the LSH on my watch! LLL!

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

 

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