Saturday, April 29, 2006


JETTAImage borrowed from the fine folks at Airwave Publishing. Hope they don't mind!

Boy howdy, JETTA took awhile to actually get published. It was originally scheduled for November(?) of last year. One resolicitation later and it arrived in my hands just a couple of weeks ago.

This is a collection of 1950s stories by Dan DeCarlo, who would later gain more than a little recognition for his work at Archie Comics. The stories in here are certainly in the Archie mold, with a number of familiar teen comic archetypes. Except - it's all in THE FUTURE! DUM DUM DUM DUM!

Seriously, the stories are cute but hardly groundbreaking stuff. The only difference is all the silly futuristic trappings. The art is all attractive and reproduced fairly well. After seeing several horrible computerized "reconstructions", kudos to Airwave for getting it right. There is some misplaced text in the introduction, but overall I'd say this is a worthy investment for your funnybook dollar if you like teen humor and/or DeCarlo's art. Oh yes, and there's a brand-new story that hits the spot, too.

If JETTA isn't at your local comic book store, it can be ordered directly from Airwave.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


If you're like me (and I know I am), you've been enjoying DC's recent SHOWCASE PRESENTS volumes. For the uninitiated, these massive tomes collect a number of comic stories in an affordable black and white format. Plus, they are printed on what I like to call REAL comic book paper. That slick stuff might be nice sometimes, but it sure isn't authentic.

The giddiness these volumes have generated is apparent with all of the "wish lists" that have been popping up all over the Internet. Everybody has their own ideas of what should be collected and they all want it now. Which is natural, one supposes, but there's a bit of a speed bump in the road.

In this thread, former DC collected editions editor Bob Greenberger revealed something that many of us did not know (quoted here because this thread will likely disappear eventually) :
DC pays a royalty based on a percentage of the cover price to writers, pencillers,and inkers to all material published prior to 1976 and after 1997. For the period in between, the vouchers that were in use called for a set reprint fee to be paid. In some cases, the amount of contractually obligated reprint fees makes the budget for a proposed collection unprofitable. In those cases, DC will either scrap the project or ask the talent involved to waive the reprint fee in lieu of the standard royalty arrangement. If the parties agree, then everyone benefits.

Did you know that? It does explain a lot, and also explains why DC's stated "window" for the SHOWCASE books is 1955-1975 (which has already been demonstrated to be flexible). There's less easily reprintable material prior to 1955 and the reprint fees go up dramatically after 1975. So it might not be wise to clear off space on your bookshelf for further volumes of, say, SHOWCASE PRESENTS : JONAH HEX just yet. While it apparently sold rather well, it might be some time before more books in the series are deemed worthy of the investment.

Then again, this could all change tomorrow. That's comics for you.

EDITED to add - doesn't the "1976-1997" time period coincide almost precisely with Jenette Kahn's stint as DC Comics publisher? Verrrrrry interesting.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Terry Beatty Is A Genius

My friend, you KNOW you needed to see this!

From The Phony Pages #2 (Renegade Press, June 1986).

Visit Terry Beatty online at!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Journey To The Real Earth-2

DC's solicits for July 2006 just went up at Newsarama and Comic Book Resources. Everyone will be giving you their picks, but I just wanted to point out one particular book advance-solicited for Aug. 2.

Written by Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway
Art by Wallace Wood, Joe Staton, Ric Estrada,
Keith Giffen and Bob Layton Cover by Brian Bolland
Collecting ALL-STAR COMICS #58-67, plus the origin of the JSA from DC SPECIAL #29! Witness the continuing adventures of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Wildcat and the rest as they are joined by younger heroes Robin, Power Girl and Star-Spangled Kid!
Advance-solicited; on sale August 2 • 224 pg, FC, $14.99 US

The kickin' Brian Bolland cover!

Ooooh, I'm very excited to see this finally coming out. I was hoping they would shoehorn the origin story into the first volume, since it doesn't really "fit" anywhere chronologically in the run. It's a great comic book. The rest are...hmm, I enjoyed them, but I suspect they have gained something of a mystique that may go beyond their actual quality. We shall see. Now, all we have to do is await the inevitable second volume (ALL-STAR COMICS #69-#74 & ADVENTURE COMICS #461-#466). It should be sooner rather than later!

I'm debating that GL "Greatest" trade. That's a maybe. And...wait, wha--?!? JSA is ending? That's certainly a set-up for a relaunch, but came outta left field.

Darn, no SHOWCASE volume this month. Maybe those advance solcits finally caught up with them.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Big News For Big Bang!


Written by Allen Berrebbi
Thursday, 13 April 2006


“It’s true! Big Bang has left Image Comics and will be self-publishing the new issues under the name Big Bang Comics,” confirmed BB editor Gary Carlson. “We’ll be right in front of the independent publishers section of Diamond’s Previews, somewhere between Archie and Bongo Comics.

“We’ve been publishing two specials a year under various titles and even our regular fans haven’t been sure what was and wasn’t Big Bang product. This way there will be no confusion.”

“Erik Larsen and Jim Valentino are two of Big Bang’s biggest friends and fans and we appreciate all they’ve done for us,” added Big Bang co-creator Chris Ecker. “Unfortunately, the books have been breaking even financially or losing money for Image for a long time.”

This won’t be the end of Big Bang at Image, however. Erik Larsen is considering a color reprint of the 100+ page 3-part “Timebomber” story line which guest starred the Savage Dragon in issues 12, 14 and 18 of BB.

Big Bang Presents #1 features tributes to two of comic’s greatest creators, Will Eisner and Jack Cole. Protoplasman is a combination of all eras of Jack Cole’s work, from the Claw to Plastic Man through his pre-code horror and crime stories. “It’s kind of a hard-boiled humorous action series,” offered writer Carlson, “This first story is very much an homage to Cole’s Plastic Man. Artist Mort Todd has done a wonderful job! Protoplasman will be a regular visitor in the pages of Big Bang Presents.”

Big Bang’s flagship character the Knight Watchman gets the Will Eisner treatment in ‘”The Camera of Doom,” also written by Gary Carlson, who considers it one of the best Big Bang comics ever produced. “From day one I’ve wanted to mix & match the great artists’ styles with different iconic characters. I still want to see a Bob Kane Ultiman story, a Simon & Kirby Knight Watchman. This story is our guess as to what a Will Eisner Batman story might have been like. Jeff Austin did a wonderful job translating my layouts into finished art.”

Another character scheduled to make her Big Bang debut in BB Presents #1 is Miss Firecracker. Long time Big Bang and Bong artist Mike Worley is slaving over this good girl strip in the Bill Ward tradition.

Big Bang Presents #1 featuring Protoplasman and the Knight Watchman is a 32 page b&w book for $2.95. If all goes well, we’re hoping to be in color by the third issue.

On a personal note, I'd just like to say that I'm cautiously optimistic about this development. BB probably has enough readers to be a modest indy hit, but have been struggling to get noticed since 2001. Will those readers that discovered them through Image follow them? Let's hope so!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The Brave and The Bold Team-Up Archives Vol. 1

To kick off the reviews, I thought I'd take a look at this hardcover collection of stories from The Brave and The Bold. While B&B is one of my favorites series, I held off on purchasing this book for some time. Why? Well, I already owned 7 of the 8 stories collected in it. That made it hard to justify spending fifty bucks for it. However, I recently got it for a nice price from the imaginatively monikered "Stinkfoot" of the Marvel Masterworks Message Board. So, with thanks to him, let's examine this tome of awesomeness.

The Brave And The Bold Team-Up Archives Vol. 1
Written by Bob Haney & Robert Kanigher.
Art by George Roussos, Howard Purcell, Joe Kubert, Bob Brown, Alex Toth, Bruno Premiani, Ramona Fradon, Charles Paris, Bernard Baily, and Gil Kane.
Original series edited by Murray Boltinoff, George Kashdan, and Robert Kanigher.

Boy, take a look at the cover at the above link. That George Roussos image (miscredited to Bernard Baily in the actual book) has been amusing me for years, and the fact that they used it for the cover proves that someone at DC has a sense of humor. Between J'Onn J'Onzz's leer and the fact that his hand is a bit hard to track down in all that green, you have the kind of cover that keeps slashers happy and content at night. I like that.

The cover is taken from the first page of B&B's #50. Using two of DC's perennial back-up stars to launch a series seems an odd move in retrospect, and worked. Haney took a few liberties here and there in the details, but it's a perfectly acceptable story from that era. Roussos' art looks a bit cruder than you'd expect from DC at the time, but it's atmospheric and tells the story well.

#51 benefits immensely from some fine, fine art by Howard Purcell. The people from Atlantis have a fondness for fin-backed helmets that I don't recall seeing elsewhere, but some panels are almost nightmarishly creepy. Plus, Aquaman and Hawkman are more or less spot-on - always a plus.

Bob Kanigher takes over as writer and editor for #52 only and it's...well, it's a Kanigher war comic. The characters are as fearless as you would imagine, and the Joe Kubert art is excellent. It's nice to see the three "battle stars" together, along with the special surprise. Of course, this was Sgt. Rock's first appearance in B&B, something Kanigher I'm sure later regretted. But more on that another day.

#53 is...Alex Toth? Really? Yep, there he is, drawing Flash, Atom, and a baddie named "Atilla-5." This might be where Haney's stories started getting a little odd, but that's probably something a smarter person than me should analyze. Unfortunately, this story is the cause of one of my beefs with this book. How in the WORLD do you lose pages from an Alex Toth story and end up reproducing them photographically? Especially when the story had been reprinted in a previous hardcover (The Greatest Team-Up Stories Ever Told) that was still in print in trade form until relatively recently? I sit and look at the pages and just shake my head, since they look to be from that earlier hardcover. I'd love to know the circumstances behind that.

Look, #54 has the Teen Titans! Well, not really, but this story directly led to the TT. The dialogue isn't nearly as "gear" as it would later be and Haney does manage to tattoo a little personality on the bland boy sidekicks. Premiani's art is stiff, but expressive and wonderful. I just can't praise it enough.

I love the Metal Men and I love Ramona Fradon, so #55 is a treat. I've always felt that Haney was one of the few writers besides Kanigher who "got" the Metal Men and this is his first crack at them. Fradon's art makes just about anything better (even that 1970s Plastic Man series), so you can't go wrong with her versions of any of the characters.

It's my pleasure to own a copy of #56 and it's surprisingly well-rounded, all things considered. I sure don't remember Iris West being quite so nasty to Barry Allen in his regular book though. As for Baily's artwork, it's stiffer than I remember it (though still pretty good). He did great work before and after, so perhaps this was just symptomatic of trying to draw "house style" or just lack of interest. One oddity - his complete inability to draw Superman's "S" shield properly.

We skip #57 and #58 (the Metamorpho tryouts) and head straight into #59. First Batman team-up! An excellent Gil Kane cover and nice Fradon interiors keep the art side going strong. As for the story, it has an ingenious time travel gimmick that you should not think about at all or you will be utterly baffled. Also on display is Batman doing something stupid and the public being intensely gullible. In many ways, this issue foreshadows many a B&B to come.

All in all, an entertaining book despite my quibbles. But then, I'm hardly unbiased. Your mileage may vary.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

"Numberious" Points

I just want to mention that I have no idea how the word "numerous" became "numberious" in the previous post, much less how I missed it for FOUR DAYS.

It's fixed now. Let's just assume the Superboy of Earth Prime punched the universe again and move on with our lives.

This reminds that I should clarify something - I don't hate 1)new comics or 2)continuity. As far as new comics go, I'm mostly ambivalent. There are plenty of good ones and bad ones, but very few that appeal to me. I'm still figuring out why that is, but I certainly don't resent them for existing or for not being exactly the way they were in 1975. Does this make me unusual among so-called "old school" fans? (Rhetorical question)

I can recommend wholeheartedly the assorted books from Big Bang Comics. Gary Carlson, Chris Ecker, and the gang have been putting out some of my favorite comics since 1994 and they could sure use your support. If reports are accurate, Protoplasman by Gary and Mort Todd should be in the next Previews. Watch for it!

As for continuity, I'm all for it as a storytelling device. Unfortunately, I feel that continuity has become a "tail wagging the dog" problem in superhero comics. If I have to choose between adhering to the letter of some obscure story and getting an intriguing new story, I know what I'm going to choose. As a recovering continuity addict, I can understand the slavish devotion to continuity, but it's something I'd rather see phased out to a certain degree.

In blogosphere news, I'd like to thank Progressive Ruin and Snap Judgments for the links to this brand new blog. Mike Sterling has become one of my favorite writers about comics and his blog was a definite inspiration to me. I don't know Carla at all (yet), but I discovered her blog recently and enjoyed her writing enough to add it to my links.

Oh, about those links. It was an incredibly arbitrary process in deciding what went there. I mostly went with sites I visit regularly or sites I think deserve more notice. There are tons of great sites out there - these are just a few of my favorites. Expect that list to change as time goes by. In fact, I'm about to do some tinkering right now.

Join me next time when I discuss an incredibly expensive hardcover book with an unintentionally hilarious cover.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Bob Haney Mystique

I was a Bob Haney fan when it wasn't cool.

There's been something of a Haney renaissance the last few years, as many fan writers have rediscovered his plot-driven but often completely delirious comics. In fact, my friend Lewis Smith once opined that all of the Haney praise might be something of a "geek chic" - that is, people jumping on a bandwagon because they perceive it to be trendy or something. Maybe. If it is, it would be a wonderful irony.

You see, Bob Haney suffered from a shockingly poor reputation among hardcore comic fans in his time. They didn't appreciate his no-holds-barred, "anything goes" stories that sometimes flew in the face of The Sacred Continuity. There was also the perception that he was a dinosaur - a writer hopelessly out of touch with the times. Instead of getting guidance, he seems to have been left to his own devices before getting squeezed out entirely in the early 1980s.

Now, I had no idea who Bob Haney was for the longest time. I was but a wee lad in the mid-1970s when The Brave and The Bold #125 was one of the earliest superhero comics to end up in my hands. It sure doesn't seem like the kind of book that would appeal to a 3 year old, but that book (with Batman, Flash, an Asian dictator, and an Amelia Earhart stand-in!) is one of the foundations of my comic book fan psyche.

More issues of B&B followed, until the fateful day when Bob was relieved of his duties as writer of the title. It didn't mean anything to me at the time - not really - but the plain truth is the book usually wasn't as interesting after his departure. There was just something about his stories that were more enjoyable than many of the tales by more "fanboy friendly" writers.

What is it about Bob Haney's work that I find so appealing? I think it's the fact that Haney is always trying to tell a STORY. Oh, he can deal out fight scenes and characterization with the best of them. Yet, there was never any doubt that the story was the thing in a Bob Haney comic. You knew when you plunked down your change that you were going to get your money's worth as far as content, if not necessarily quality.

Oh yes, Bob wrote some bad comics in his day. I'll be the first to admit it. But when a Bob Haney comic failed, it failed spectacularly. There was a mad genius to even a bad Haney comic that made it enjoyable. Bob's numerous writing idiosyncracies are one of his hallmarks, and sometimes they worked and sometimes they...didn't.

Sadly, Bob Haney passed away in 2004. However, he did get to see at least some of the newfound respect that has begun to develop for his work. With every passing year, Bob Haney's reputation gets a little more rehabilitation. One of my main goals for this blog is to further that process by attempting to discuss as many Bob Haney comics as I possibly can acquire.

Expect strangeness.