Tuesday, October 21, 2014

A Looong New York Comic Con 2014 Moment # 3: And a Great Time Was Had By All!

Rounding out our coverage of New York Comic Con 2014, Friday was lots of fun, Saturday was greater still, and Sunday was a nice wind-down day.  Just the way you’d hope such a four-day event would go. 

You can read about the events of Day 1 (Thursday) HERE

Day 2 (Friday), the crowds were still above my recollected norms for the day.  As reported in the Comments Section of the Day 1 post, I made no new purchases, but had a great outdoor lunch with the incomparable David Gerstein (...he, whom no new Disney comic book publisher should be without!), former Gemstone Editor-in-Chief John Clark (it’s an annual treat to get together with John), and Rick Keane whom I’d never met, but is a particularly fine fellow. Also, got to chat with good friend Jonathan Gray; of the ARCHIE and SONIC world, and a former Disney comics contributor like myself.

Spent a portion of the day attending a panel spotlighting comics writer Brian K. Vaughn, in order to obtain Vaughn’s autograph for a friend, and found him to be quite interesting and entertaining.  I’m certain I’ve read something by him for BATMAN some years back, and his Vertigo series “Y THE LAST MAN” sounds interesting enough for an eventual looksee. 

If you read the aforementioned comments on the Day 1 Blog post, you’d come away with the idea that I was feeling somewhat jaded toward the general con-going experience.  Particularly over the relatively few purchases of “Nothing Special in Particular” like that first issue of Charlton’s HUCKLEBERRY HOUND (Ugh!), the overload of Hollywood and cosplayers, and the upped crowd totals. 

No cosplayer would ever look as bad as this!

That may have been true at the time I wrote it – and pretty much still is – but all that was about to change…

Mickey and Spongebob together couldn't equal the happiness!

Day 3 (Saturday) was EVERYTHING the comic-con experience should be, and more! 

Being surrounded by good friends ALWAYS makes the day great, and spending the vast majority of Saturday with both David Gerstein and Dan Cunningham really put this day on the map for me.  Thanks, fellas!  And, also to Thad Komorowski, who joined us for a time as well. 

Why, even the CROWDS seemed somehow more manageable!  Or, was this day SO GREAT, I just didn't notice them! 

Then, there was the “rejuvenation in comics” that began with finding a Whitman variant of an issue of DONALD DUCK (# 143, released in March, 1972) which struck me as being EARLIER than I would have expected Whitman variants of Gold Key Comics titles to have occurred.  

Though, a Grand Comics Database search reveals that Whitman variants began as early as DONALD DUCK # 140, released in September, 1971.  That IS earlier than I would have expected Whitman variants to occur.

# 153 - The first issue of the Big Scooby Purchase! 
The roll continued with the acquisition of 42 issues of DC’s SCOOBY-DOO title (from 2010 to the present) for forty dollars.  That’s MUCH less than half the cover price, which went from 2.50 to 2.99 during that period! 

…If you don’t mind my saying so, “That’s a lot of Doo! 

It covers the period where the title switched over from SCOOBY-DOO, to the more traditional and classic SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU, the title it sports today.

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 50: The current issue, as of this writing. 

As you know, I’m a big fan of the SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title, but I’m a little conflicted on whether to add the current SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU title to my newly-reinstated comic shop pull-list.  

Awesome Sauce!  It's SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP! 

Oh, I’ve really enjoyed those issues I’ve read from that prodigious purchase – particularly the “Comic Con tribute issue”, SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #47 (Cover Date: September, 2014), with a wonderful new lead story with a denouement offering all the delightful absurdity of the “humorously bizarre villain motives” most often found in the recent TV series SCOOBY-DOO MYSTERY INCORPORATED…

…But, as presently constituted, the current "non-TEAM-UP" SCOOBY-DOO comics appear to run a new ten-page lead story, with the balance of each issue filled with REPRINTS from DC’s earlier SCOOBY-DOO title!  That means you get that wonderful Comic-Con story by SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP writer Sholly Fisch and LOONEY TUNES artist Dave Alvarez – but you also get older stories that I already own from years of purchasing DC’s SCOOBY title. 

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 47: 2014 San Diego Comic Con Variant!
At least DC plays fair with us by placing a line like this (seen in SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #47) in the indicia of each issue:  This issue contains reprint material from SCOOBY-DOO issue 77".

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 47: 2014 Regular Edition
…And, I’m just not sure I want to by a regular monthly title with that much material that I already own.   Frankly, I’m surprised at DC packing a regular line book with reprints, in an age where the back issues are so readily available because they’ve never been discarded, but remain in comic shop back issue and discount bins.

SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU #48 (above) features a clever, reference-laden new story about Shaggy's garage sale -- and the stuff he'd like to unload, like the Mano-Tiki-Tia mask (from "A Tiki Scare is No Fair"), and other items held onto since the old TV episodes...

...But, it's also balanced off by a reprint that is clearly from 2004!  (Note Freddy's then-current, ascot-less "WHAT'S NEW, SCOOBY-DOO" outfit!)  

Yeah, I know it’s not much different from when Gold Key routinely reprinted ‘50s Dell Comics material in its 1960s regular line – but, because those ‘50s Dells were not exactly available to everyone in 1965, it’s still different enough. 

For now, I think I’ll just stick with SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, but enjoy the issues I got at such a huge discount.

Also, for 50% off cover price, I found a hardcover copy of IDW’s (there’s that name, again) hardcover of “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1959-1961”.  Still another high-quality product from this high-quality publisher, featuring stories from Superman creator Jerry Siegel and classic Superman artists Wayne Boring and Curt Swan.  I had great fun reading that on the train ride home that night. 

I also had a pleasant chat with DC and Marvel artist Alex Saviuk, at his table in Artist’s Alley.  I had always admired Alex’s work, particularly for DC Comics during the early to mid-‘80s, but there was an added incentive to seek him out…

Superman and President Ronald Reagan in the Oval Office - by Alex Saviuk.
Please forgive the tilted angle, as a result of scanning a large sheet of full page art with a small scanner. 

It seems that my darling wife Esther plays Mah-Jong with Saviuk’s sister-in-law, and Alex had a great laugh at our “connection”.  Naturally, the topic quickly turned from Mah-Jong-playing relatives to comics.  Alex had a particular page of art that featured Superman, the villain “Neutron”, and former president Ronald Reagan, which I was certain came from this issue of ACTION COMICS…

ACTION COMICS # 526 Cover Date: December 1981

…But, Saviuk’s recollection was that he had done the story through DC for the German market.  I bought the page, which he autographed, and looked up the issue of ACTION that night.  Sure enough, Superman, Neutron, and Reagan were in the issue – but it was drawn by fellow artist Joe Staton. 

Ronnie and Nancy meet Clark, Lois, and Jimmy, by Joe Staton in ACTION COMICS # 526!  ...And (Gulp!), could that be STAN LEE between the President and Clark Kent?!  (Choke!) Click to enlarge.  Hey, "Morgan Edge" is there, too!  Remember him?  

Superman and President Reagan by Alex Saviuk.  

Oddly, Alex Saviuk had drawn the back-up story of “Air Wave” in that issue, so my recollections of a 1981 issue of ACTION COMICS with Superman, Neutron, Ronald Reagan – and Alex Saviuk were correct, but just not that particular story.  I went back the following day, and told Alex he’d “won the bet”.   

Air Wave, by Alex Saviuk, also from ACTION COMICS # 526.  Click to enlarge. 

The day was perfectly capped by dinner with David and Dan at “Daisy May’s BBQ USA” restaurant – a new place for us, discovered by David, on 11th Avenue, just north of NYCC at the Jacob Javitz Convention Center.  We’ll be going back to that one!   

Day 4 (Sunday) was a text-book wind-down day, after the full-tilt fun-fest of Saturday! 

Began the day at Midtown Comics, before going to the Con.  At their exhibit, Midtown Comics gave “20 % discount cards” to all visitors. 

So impressed was I with IDW’s “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1959-1961” from the day before, that I used the discount to glom onto the companion volume “SUPERMAN: THE SILVER AGE DAILIES 1961-1963”, three additional recent issues of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU (Same deal: Great new lead story, followed by familiar reprints), and my two missing issues of the revived 2013 ASTRO CITY series. 

This looks like a job for... IDW!

At the con itself, came a few early to mid-fifties Dell issues of WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES (The Lantz equivalent of WALT DISNEY’S COMICS AND STORIES, with Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, etc.), all for less than 3.00 each – including this maybe / kinda / sorta landmark (?) issue.  

Issue # 212.  Cover Date: October, 1954.

It appears that I may have gotten the first appearance of “Winnie Woodpecker” (complete with her bobby-soxer outfit, right out of the 1954 Woodpecker cartoonReal Gone Woody- though spelled "Winny") – and SECOND (at least, per the Grand Comics Database) four-color appearance of Chilly Willy!

Maybe they should call him "BUZZ-CUT BUZZARD"!
Art by John Carey. 

Oddly, Chilly Willy apparently began his comic book life (with new stories going well into the mid-1960s) as a regularly-featured guest-character in the “Homer Pigeon” feature in NEW FUNNIES!  

In cartoons, Chilly certainly eclipsed Homer by far but, in mid-1950s comics Homer may have been the bigger draw – certainly Homer was the starring characters of the two.   Art by Vive Risto. 

Though, Chilly would later have his own series of Dell Four Color issues, and Homer would eventually fade away.  

Despite a virtual lifetime of research on Dell and Gold Key Comics produced by Western Publishing, I never knew that’s how Chilly Willy started in comics, until Sunday, October 12, 2014!   As I’ve said elsewhere, when it comes to Western Publishing, the more you know, the more there is to learn! 

Why, we even get Chilly Willy's ORIGIN story in NEW FUNNIES # 212.  How great is that?  Click to enlarge!  

After another floor-go-‘round with David, it was off to home, having had another wonderful time at New York Comic Con!  Hope to see you all there in 2015!  



scarecrow33 said...


Thanks for sharing a great post. I really feel your excitement through it all, and I almost feel like I was there myself.

Didn't realize your interest in Scooby Doo comics was so strong. It's great to learn about what's been going on with the Scooby titles lately. I haven't collected much Scooby stuff since the Gold Key days--not that my interest is LESS, but there are other comics in which I am MORE interested...especially old Tarzans, Zorros, and vintage Hanna-Barbera and Disney. But I must say you got a real deal on those Scooby Doo comics! I would have snapped that one up, too.

I have been wanting those Superman books for some time, but finances and shelf space are playing a role in my being careful these days. I am glad you got both of them, and I hope you will let me know how they are. (I am collecting a similar Tarzan comic strip series by Russ Manning right now, so that's mainly why I'm not getting the Superman comic strips.)

I also had no idea that your interest in the Lantz characters runs so deep. I never saw a Homer-Chilly teamup before and it's a surprise to me that Chilly started with Homer. In fact, I've sort of lamented the dearth of crossovers between Woody Woodpecker, Andy Panda, Chilly Willy, and the others. They seldom interacted outside of their own respective stories. Glad to know that the characters haven't always been kept separate.

Love those New Funnies comics--that's one title I've collected extensively, and yet there always seem to be more to collect. Just like with WDC&S--there are more issues than one could read in one lifetime...but every addition just makes the collection that much sweeter!

Thanks for sharing your treasures (and duds). Look forward to your future postings.

Joe Torcivia said...

I am very happy to help spread the NYCC Spirit, Scarecrow! After all, the next best thing to “being there in person” is “being there in spirit”! …And “spirit” is one thing there was NO shortage of!

It’s a funny thing, in that it seemed to almost start off a bit too slow and (for lack of a more descriptive word) uninteresting – but, by Saturday, it REALLY kicked into that same high-gear that the good old days in San Diego used to reach! Dana Gabbard and Chris Barat can probably STILL hear me give my traditional Con-morning speech that would invariably end with “Now, let’s get OUT THERE, and KICK SOME DEALER BUTT!”

…Yeah, I really used to say that!

And, there would be the equally-if-not-more-so traditional Sunday night “Mope”, once the Con was over and before we’d all head home in the morning. Only, this time I took a subway and a bus home, instead of a cross-country flight, and no “moping” because the season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD – and, most importantly, Esther were waiting for me to make the day complete! So, this REALLY was the best!

As for Scooby, we have history… I watched the first ever telecast of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU that was on CBS on a Friday night, and the second one in its normal timeslot of 10:30 on the following Saturday morning – and followed the gang through THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES. After that, I worked odd jobs on Saturday, and Hanna-Barbera’s general quality worsened, so I didn’t much care. Caught up with SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU again in the Cartoon Network days – and again once it was released on DVD.

In comics, I bought Gold Key’s SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU # 2 off the newsstand. Somehow missed # 1, and didn’t get it until sometime in the ‘90s. Got all of them eventually, and the Marvel issues too. And, of course you know the great praise I continually heap upon the current SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP title from DC. …And that was quite a “value purchase” of Scooby comics. Still disappointed to find so much of it is reprinted material from when I was regularly buying the DC SCOOBY-DOO title, though.

The Superman books are in the same strip format as the Gottfredson Mickey Mouse books. Three strips across a page, just as they should be. The first Silver Age volume, which I’ve been slowly savoring bit-by-bit, leads off with a daily strip story from 1959 which, in my mind (and perhaps ONLY my mind), I see as “Superman Meets Irwin Allen”! A bombastic film producer from outer space holds Earth hostage to ensure that Superman performs awkward and embarrassing feats for his motion picture. I’m loving it!

Lantz comics are part of my overall interest in the products of Western Publishing – still my favorite publisher of all time.

NEW FUNNIES is one of the last Dell titles I’ve decided to accumulate. That, along with Dell’s LOONEY TUNES, is a series I’ll never come close to completing, but I will enjoy that which I have.

NEW FUNNIES is also chock full of forgotten Walter Lantz comic-book lore. Not just characters like Charlie Chicken, who survived long enough to be recognizable in sixties comics and seventies reprints – but the REAL stuff like Tackhammer, the family of BOBCATS that wanted to EAT Woody, Knothead and Splinter, and (as I JUST learned) that Chilly Willy was introduced to comic books as a guest-character in the Homer Pigeon feature.

…Never mind that Knothead was once called “Nuthead" and there was a story that actually noted the change to “Knothead” in a caption box, that Splinter was once a BOY, and there were one or two issues of NEW FUNNIES that had ACTUAL HONEST-TO-GOODNESS CREATOR CREDITS inside the book!

Indeed, I’d say WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES is a comic book title that is almost worthy of archeological study!

WHEW! If you didn’t share the thrills of the Con with me before, I guess you have now!

Dan said...

Well done, Joe!

It was a pleasure to roam the aisles and help scoop back issues out of long boxes with you and David. There was four-color eye candy from every decade, what joy to see all those books present in one huge venue!

Alex Saviuk was quite the gentleman, and his expert talents show in the first panel you scanned of the original art... the overhead shot of Supes and the Gipper at the desk exhibits significant details, but not enough to remove attention from the characters or their dialogue. Mr. Saviuk certainly has excellent control of his drafting.

Lantz likely had little concern for continuity in his own animated shorts (much less the comic books based on them!) I can't help imagine that ice fishing tale in the hands of DC Comics today, reprinted as a $4.99 deluxe issue #0 with six variant covers... "WALTER LANTZ NEW 52 FUNNIES PRESENTS, CHILLY WILLY: SECRET ORIGINS"

- Dan

Joe Torcivia said...

…As it was an equal pleasure to have you with us Dan!

Beyond being an artist I’ve always liked, and now I can add to that also being a good guy, Alex Saviuk, and those of his particular era of the seventies and particularly the eighties, represented a comic-book artistic style that I have always enjoyed. You might even say that, for mainstream super hero comics, it’s the style I like best!

It is a style of clear and clean draftsmanship that gives me the feeling that I am reading a professionally produced comic book. A step or two above the average Silver Age art in the direction of “realism” (quotes intentional to indicate “comic-book realism”) and none of the ugly hyper-distorted exaggeration that came in with the ‘90s Marvel / Image Comics school of art, or inappropriate Anime influences, that pollute most modern mainstream comics. It’s something the industry has unfortunately left behind, and one reason why many comics titles that I have read for years, if not decades, no longer appeal to me.

As an artist, yourself, it is particularly gratifying to find that you agree with me.


Gotta LOVE that!

…And, just to piggyback on that great laugh-out-loud thought, how about DC bringing us full-circle with a new title in the vein of my cherished SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, and have it be…

CHILLY WILLY TEAM-UP with guest star Homer Pigeon!

Alas, the pair find that, when Chilly visits Homer again as he did all those years ago in WALTER LANTZ NEW FUNNIES, they no longer have the same chemistry as a team… proving that (wait for it) “You can’t go Homer again!”

Hmmm… Chilly Willy just called to say my humor leaves him ”cold”!

ramapith said...

Chilly Willy just called to remind me that his first team-up with Homer came in NEW FUNNIES 211!

Joe Torcivia said...

Well, I DID say # 212 was his SECOND appearance. Wish I’d found # 211 to go along with it.

I rather liked Chilly breaking up the monotony of the eternal Homer / Carrie / Red Cardnial triangle that was the usual fare of the time. .

Oh, and Smedley also called to say: “Smart! …Brains!”

…And, adding to the unexpected procession of telephonic messages from “Chilly Willy characters”, even that BEAR from “The Legend of Rockabye Point” called but, for some reason, I kept falling asleep while he was on the line.

TC said...

I would say that reprinting relatively recent (less than twenty years old) stuff now is "different enough" from doing it in the 1960's. For one thing, as you point out, older comics were not widely available then. There were no comic book specialty stores, no mycomicshop.com, no ebay.

Further, a typical comic book fan in 1965 would be about 7-12 years old, and would be unlikely to remember the earlier edition. When I read "The Rocketing Radish" in Bugs Bunny #101, I may not have even realized it was a reprint.

In fact, in 1966-67, Marvel Collector's Item Classics and Marvel Tales routinely reprinted stories that were less than five years old. I knew they were reprints, but I had not seen them before. The same with DC's 80-page Giants and Gold Key's digests.

Today, customers for comics tend to be collectors who have been buying new and back issues for years. But, in the Silver Age and earlier, publishers tended to assume that the readership turned over completely about every seven years. Based on my own experience, that assumption was probably not far off.

Joe Torcivia said...

I couldn’t agree with you more on this, TC!

Especially in today’s marketplace, reprints should be presented only in collections of their own, and not integrated into regular line books. Keeping Barks, Gottfredson, and (now) Rosa alive in the Disney books may be my only permissible exception, because they ARE the acknowledged masters of their genre. Just keep it to a manageable minimum.

I sure don’t need any reprints of ‘90s and early 2000’s Scooby-Doo stories. Create trade paperbacks, or other designated reprint collections, for those.

“Further, a typical comic book fan in 1965 would be about 7-12 years old, and would be unlikely to remember the earlier edition. When I read "The Rocketing Radish" in Bugs Bunny #101, I may not have even realized it was a reprint.”

I KNEW it back then, because the art was often better and the stories often longer and deeper than many of the contemporary stories… Oh, and there was that LINE OF TEXT that said “Reprinted by Popular Demand”! Remember that?

I seriously doubt ANYONE “demanded” those reprints, except maybe the books’ editors and publishers, as a cost-cutting measure. But, not only did I enjoy them – but, at least back in the mid-sixties, I never thought there was even a prayer of having the originals. So, they were very worthwhile. Not like most reprints would be today.

TC said...

Actually, I do remember that "reprinted by popular demand" caption, but it didn't make much of an impression on me when I was seven. Years later, I may have wondered who "demanded" it. Probably, as you say, some editor who was under pressure to get the next issue published on schedule and within budget.

Joe Torcivia said...

And, another fascinating (at least to me) thing we’ll never really know is why certain Gold Key titles, or groups of titles by licensed studio or production company, got the reprint treatment, and others did not.

Warner Bros. was virtually all reprint from late 1964 until the early seventies. Ditto for Walter Lantz, and MGM. So were POPEYE and BEETLE BAILEY, until King Features started their own short-lived “King Comics”, and then turned their product over to Charlton.

There was some sort of rule allowing for SIX PAGES of new story per issue, with the rest reprints. Again, that didn’t bother me, because the reprints were good, and there was no way I’d ever imagine getting the originals. Though, why those particular studios, and title groups? I never thought much about it as a kid. I’m sure no kids did.

Disney was still mostly all-new. Presumably, due to higher demand for stories to be published overseas. And, Hanna-Barbera didn’t have enough of a backlog for reprints. Though, between 1967 and 1970 (after which they, too – alas, made the move to Charlton) most H-B “traditional character” Gold Key titles were pretty much all reprint too. Charlton, of course, proved beyond all doubt that “new” was not necessarily “Better”. Yet, SCOOBY-DOO, and other catch-all titles like FUN-IN, and SUPER TV HEROES (by necessity), remained all-new until the H-B license eventually ended, giving way to Charlton (BAD) and then Marvel (GOOD).

Sigh! Why didn’t I ask “all those Western Publishing guys” more questions, when I corresponded with them in the eighties!