Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New York Comic Con – Where your Inner-Geek can Come Out for a Peek!

It was “Christmas in October” with my acquisition of WALT DISNEY’S CHRISTMAS PARADE # 2 (1950)! This is the issue with Carl Barks’ “You Can’t Guess”, a Mickey Mouse by Bill Wright, a Grandma Duck by (very early) Paul Murry, and even such unusual features as “Abmrose the Robber Kitten” from Silly Symphonies!

And I finally found an affordable copy of this issue at… New York Comic Con!

In five short years, New York Comic Con has become one of the industry's more important shows – and the type of comic and related arts convention that I always felt that New York deserved!

Needless to say I had a great time over October 8-10, meeting friends old and new – and even a few persons who (I was delighted to learn) read this Blog! I’ll spare their reputations and keep their identities a secret!

As both interests shift and want lists contract with the advance of time and decades of collecting, my “haul” is decidedly smaller than in years past, but no less “special” to me.

In addition to CHRISTMAS PARADE # 2, my stack included several issues of Gold Key’s BORIS KARLOFF TALES OF MYSTERY (…in response to the great enjoyment I am presently experiencing with the recently-released THRILLER The Complete Series on DVD, hosted by Boris Karloff. I’ll have more to say about the comic soon.
A long-standing hole in my Silver Age DC Comics collection was filled by the addition of WORLD’S FINEST COMICS # 117 (May, 1961), edited by Jack (“I never met a monster I didn’t like!”) Schiff. The cover speaks for itself!

And WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES # 182 (April, 1952), which introduces us to "Knothead and Splinter" … sort of! In this debut tale, they are “Nuthead and Splinter”… and they are BOTH BOYS! At the end, they force themselves on Woody Woodpecker, whom they decide to call “Uncle Woody” – and are presumably adopted as such.

I learned that publisher Craig Yoe will be doing a book on Bud Sagendorf’s Popeye! Sagendorf is long overdue his proper recognition – and I can’t wait for the book!

I met “Mister Felix the Cat” Don Oriolo – who is one heck of a nice guy!

And I got a look at my upcoming dialogue work for Boom Kids! UNCLE SCROOGE # 397! …Out in just a month! So much fun… so little time!


Chris Barat said...


Sounds like you had a great time. Sorry I couldn't go, but next year is definitely a possibility -- by then, both Nicky and I should be healed up just fine.

"Nuthead and Splinter" may have both been boys in their first appearance, but here they're playing... jump rope? What would HD&L, or Morty and Ferdie, say?


Joe Torcivia said...

What would they say, Chris? They’d say: “At least they’re not playing SOCCER!”

Oh, no… wait! I’D say that!

Concerning "Nuthead and Splinter", fast forward four issues to NEW FUNNIES # 186.

By this time, Splinter has become a GIRL (as she would remain to this day) and the opening splash panel of that issue’s Woody Woodpecker story reads as follows:

“Notice to all readers: Nuthead has decided to change his name to KNOTHEAD. Says he, Woody Woodpecker has four nuts to his name. I’ll never be as big a nut as he is, so why try to compete!”

This, oddly refers to the Woody Woodpecker logo where the “Two ‘O’s’ in “Woody”, and the “Two ‘O’s’ in “Woodpecker”, are drawn as “Nuts” – the type of which goes with “Bolts”.

So, we have a sex change, a name change, and an offhanded reference to a character’s logo! Not quite the norm for 1952 comic books, eh?

Now, here’s the REALLY weird part! Knothead and Splinter made their animated debut in “Get Lost” (1956)! So that would mean that they were created by WESTERN PUBLISHING, and later “adopted” by the Walter Lantz animation studio!

I’ve heard this was also the case with Space Mouse.

We hope to see you next year at NYCC!


joecab said...

Foo I was just in NYC the weekend before so I didn't make it to the Con. I haven't been to a NYC con since ... 20, 25 years ago? Well old enough to have attended plenty of Phil Seuling cons, anyway!

Is it really turning into another San Diego like some say? How's the selection of old comics in general? Each time I go to SDCC that comics section gets smaller and smaller...

Joe Torcivia said...

Joe C.

I attended those Phil Seuling cons too, starting in 1981 when a friend told me about them. Missed out on all of the supposedly legendary seventies activity, because I was “out of comics” for virtually all of the seventies.

In the late ‘90s, I wrote the story of my rediscovering comics in 1980-1981 – and learning for the first time of comic cons, back issues for sale, and comic specialty shops. None of which existed (or was known to me) during my Silver Age childhood. I should post that someday.

As for NYCC…

I’ve gone to every San Diego Comic Con from 1988-2003 – save three years when various circumstances prevented it. Haven’t been there since.

Yes, the show got bigger, and the comics selection got smaller, as media started taking over. I liked that in SOME ways, as I always got to see previews of the WB/DC/Bruce Timm Animated Series, panels for The Simpsons, and other things I like.

For me, it was as much an “event” and a place to meet with various friends and some professionals I knew, as it was a place to buy older comics.

By all reports (including some from friends who still go), it’s gotten TOO BIG – and, as you say, the comics aspects have gotten too small.

Baltimore Comic Con is also a great show, in a great venue, with an emphasis on comics. I went there every year that I was associated with Gemstone, as they were headquartered near Baltimore. Easy ride on Amtrak, too.

Now, NYCC is the “event” for me to hang with friends and other pros – and fill in those nagging holes in my collection, which are getting smaller and smaller. And, best of all, I get to go as a pro now too! (For my Gemstone and Boom! Disney stuff, of course!)

I thought the first NYCC was a disorganized disaster. Now, NYCC is now very much like SDCC was in the mid-‘90s on. I love it! If you liked that, you’d like this. You should go someday.

There’s lots of non-comics stuff going on. Other media, Anime and the like. But there’s more than enough to keep an old-line comics enthusiast very happy!


Anonymous said...

Jack Schiff is remembered as the idiot who stuck Batman in sci-fi stories with bug-eyed monsters. But in an interview published in the 1983 Overstreet Price Guide, he claimed that he was against the introduction of science fiction into Batman and Detective Comics. He was overruled by his boss, Irwin Donenfeld, who wanted to exploit what seemed to be the hot fad at the time. The irony is that Schiff, unlike his colleagues Mort Weisinger and Julius Schwartz, was not a science fiction fan. So maybe Schiff should be blamed if the sci-fi Batman stories were badly done, but not for the decision to use sci-fi in the first place.

Joe Torcivia said...

I don’t know why anyone would consider Jack Schiff an “idiot”, Anon. Though, with fans today, I’d not be surprised. I don’t even consider him “misguided”.

More like he was part of a movement that was going on in comics – "Monsters and All Things Related to Them" – that was feeding off of the slew of ‘50s movies that evolved into ‘60s TV, and appealed to whatever the publishers considered to be their “key reader demographic”.

DC certainly did it in classic style with Schwartz and Weisinger. (…And even Weisinger was a bit too heavy on the “pathos”, or “schmaltz”, as often as not.) Marvel and the lesser publishers did so as well. Wasn’t AMAZING FANTASY a “Monster” title before it introduced Spider-Man?

I think you hit it, with the thought that Schiff just wasn’t as “good” at the execution of Monster comics, as were some of his contemporaries. Or, maybe Batman just wasn’t the best subject for a prolonged parade of strange creatures.

Yet, as the TV series THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD has showed on occasion, in the episode “Legends of the Dark Mite” and in other bits scattered across the run, the Jack Schiff Era stuff can really be fun – set in the proper perspective, of course!

Thanks for the additional insight into Jack Schiff, someone about whom not enough is known.

To totally digress for a moment – and this is all the more ironic because DC Comics is now owned by Warner Bros. – but you can equate the three main Silver Age editors at DC to the three main animation directors at Warner Bros.!

Julius Schwartz = Chuck Jones (Generally the best at everything he did.) Mort Weisinger = Friz Freleng (Lesser than Jones, but still legendary in his own right.) Jack Schiff = Robert McKimson (the “Third Guy” about whom relatively little is known – and is generally underappreciated.)

I may turn that thought into a future post.

Anonymous said...

For the record, I don't consider Schiff an idiot, whether the sci-fi trend was his idea or not. But a lot of accounts (blogs, fanzine articles) follow a party line that Batman went to H- in a hand basket under Schiff, and that the comic was in danger of cancellation until Schwartz took over and saved it. IMHO, the New Look was an improvement, but the idea that Schwartz had to go in and clean up Schiff's mess is probably an unfair exaggeration. If I had been an editor at DC in 1960, I might have directed the writers to come up with more bug-eyed monsters and invaders from outer space. Publishers are in business to sell magazines, and sci-fi monsters were what sold at that time.

Joe Torcivia said...

As is often the case, I’d say we’re again in complete agreement.