April 15, 2014

Jack Oleck and Wally Wood's "Has-Been"

Originally published in EC Comics' Incredible Science Fiction #31 (September-October 1955), Wally Wood masterfully illustrates Jack Oleck's fantastic tale of rockets, alien invasions, and the fleeting dreams of youth. This is the Gemstone reprint, from Incredible Science-Fiction #9 (November 1994). If you're a comic fan on a budget, all Russ Cochran's reprints are highly recommended. Comic scans are just fine, but I've found it doesn't compare to holding the actual comic in your hands! Or at least a reprint of the actual comic.

April 7, 2014

It's Just A Phase I'm Going Through, Again!

For a while, I've mostly been out of the comic scene, concentrating on other hobbies and happiness pursuits. Recently, I even sold the bulk of my current collection to a fellow comic collector. I felt there was too much filler in that collection, and I wanted to start over. I ended up with three boxes of comics 1980-Present. Two boxes of those are going on Craigslist soon.

Looking at the books I kept, it really struck me how much I have always loved the more esoteric stuff. I could never part with my complete run of Captain Carrot & His Amazing Zoo Crew!, the first series I went nuts over all those years ago. Also in the "keeper" box: Groo The Wanderer, Hate, Eightball, Ambush Bug, Cerebus, Flaming Carrot, some Dell/Gold Key, some Bongo, even a few Harveys. 

The culling process really helped me to get me excited about collecting again, and it also helped me identify what I would like to collect and why. There are certain creators whose work seldom fails to satisfy or inspire me. Here's the shortlist, in no particular order:

John Stanley, Walt Kelly, Will Elder, Jack Kirby, Peter Bagge, Scott Shaw!, Will Eisner, Harvey Pekar, Don Martin, Lynda Barry, Carl Barks, Mark Evanier, Steve Ditko, Curt Swan, Kurt Schaffenberger, Robert Crumb, Basil Wolverton, Al Williamson, John Severin, Drew Friedman, Skip Williamson, Bill Griffith, Wally Wood, Sergio Aragones, Joe Kubert, Bob Burden, Dan DeCarlo, Howie Post, Alex Toth, Sheldon Mayer, Jack Cole, C.C. Beck, Mac Raboy, Dick Briefer, Joe Kubert, Marie Severin, Los Bros Hernandez, Gahan Wilson, Frank Frazetta, Roy Thomas, Jack Davis, et al.

A list rife with omissions, but I think it conveys a general sense (to people familiar with these names, at least) of what I look for in a comic book: the well-honed skills of highly imaginative individuals. I know there are hardly any modern day creators on this list, but I am open to suggestions. I definitely love Tales Designed To Thrizzle by Michael Kupperman. 

For my birthday, I placed an order with Mile High from their eBay store. Here's what I picked up:

Alter Ego's Special 3-D Issue makes me wish my eyes worked better!

 I've been meaning to dive into this series for a long time...

 A nice hardcover reprinting the best of the early Archie stories.

 Scott Saavedra's homage to the inherent wackiness of old comics.

 The beginning of Gladstone's 80's run of these two Disney titles.

 Two magazine size reprints from the EC Classics series published by Russ Cochran. Can you tell I am partial to reprints?

 Biting fumetti-style comic insider commentary from Jim Engel and Chuck Fiala, with a special appearance by Scott Shaw! as Bob's Big Boy. A laugh riot!

 Just a random issue of one of my favorite surrealistic strips...

NatLamp's best stuff appeared in the 70's, but there are some gems to be found in some of the issues from the late 80's/early 90's.

 As much as I love the original Mad comics, I can't believe I've only read a few issues of Mad's "only authorized imitation." The Dick Tracy parody in #5 is classic Will "Chicken Fat" Elder!

Arf! Arf! 'Nuff Said.

Scott Shaw! 'Nuff Said.

Another odd strip I like.

First issue of the Steve Canyon magazine, from Kitchen Sink.

Another Kitchen Sink publication. I know I remember seeing some Steven strips somewhere...

 A reprinting of The Tick #1.

Short-lived magazine focusing on classic and then-current animation. I had another copy of this previously, but it mysteriously disappeared.

Cosmic Coincidences: Mickey Rooney Edition

Tributes are abounding in the wake of the passing of legendary actor Mickey Rooney. However, there is one interesting detail that most of the obituaries have failed to mention, a stunning coincidence that is as poetic as it is unlikely.

In San Francisco, there is an organization called The National Film Preservation Fund. By their estimate, about 80% of all films made in the first few decades of the motion picture industry have been lost, at least in the United States. Overseas, some of these "lost" films have survived in highly flammable nitrate distribution prints, thanks to the passionate efforts of collectors.

Just last week, an announcement was made by the NFPF, in partnership with the EYE Filmmuseum of Amsterdam, that dozens of these lost films had been unearthed and were scheduled for restoration. One of the rarest finds? A 1927 short, Mickey's Circus, featuring a six year old youngster named Mickey Rooney...in his very first starring role!

Talk about coming full circle!