Wednesday, January 8, 2020

What’s Last …and First …and Red (read) All Over? (...Another LONG Post!)


Ya know?  That old joke REALLY doesn’t work in printed form!  No matter, because…

THE HOLIDAYS AREN'T OVER UNTIL I SAY THEY ARE!

As for that “What’s Last …and First” part... You're probably asking yourself, now that the (once unimaginable) New Year of 2020 has been rung in, what was the LAST comic Joe read in 2019 - and what was the FIRST comic he read in 2020 - and were they really "red (read) all over?"

...Even if not, just go along with the bit, okay?  

You're ALSO probably asking yourself... They must have been really spectacular choices to commemorate such an important turn-of-decade, right? 

Well, EVERY comic book I own is "special" to me, kinda like the way every coin is "special" to Scrooge McDuck.  Each one of my precious comic books has "its own story"!  In fact, many of them have SEVERAL stories, and lots of ads to boot - but I digress. 

But, in terms of historic import - or "gravitas", if you will - you might well consider my choices to be quite ordinary!  Though, again (like Scrooge's coins), none of them are "ordinary" to me! 

Last Comic of 2019:  MARCH OF COMICS # 402 -  Daffy Duck (Promotional Giveaway, 1975)


First Comic of 2020: WORLD'S FINEST # 106 (DC Comics, Cover Date: December, 1959)


Feel free to read on, once your moment of stunned silence has passed! 

Okay, now that you've rejoined us, I have to ask... Has anyone ever actually said "Great Scott!" in real life? 


Sure, Captain Kirk might occasionally say "Great Work, Scotty!" in times of crisis...

...But "Great Scott!"?  I dunno!  

Yet, it's even on the cover of the VERY NEXT ISSUE (# 107)! 


...And, many, many more! 

You might think that my choice of WORLD'S FINEST # 106 could have something to do with its  Cover Date of December, 1959 - sixty years after we'd just left 2019 in our cosmic rear view mirror... but, no.  It was just luck-of-the-draw, as both these comics were in the very last shipment of back issues I received from Lone Star Comics before the turning of the year!   

So, without further ado, let's say goodbye to 2019 with MARCH OF COMICS # 402 -  Daffy Duck (Promotional Giveaway, 1975)!

"March of Comics" (as discussed in THIS POST) was designed to be a giveaway premium, and was used for promotional purposes by major retailers such as Sears, and by others you probably never heard of.

Beginning in 1946, and ending in 1982 (!), it ran for an astounding 488 issues - and was produced by the same editorial and creative folks that brought you Dell and Gold Key Comics. 


Daffy Duck "The Bottled Blabber" 14 pages (of 3-tiers per page) is written by Vic Lockman and penciled by Phil DeLara. 

Long story short, Daffy and Elmer Fudd, with the help of a few wacky inventions by Elmer's (presumably deceased) Uncle Fignewton Fudd...


...Travel to a somewhat familiar place in time and space, even if you've never read this particular story before!  


"Familiar", that is, to ANOTHER duck named "DONALD"!


Yes, Vic Lockman sent BOTH famous ducks back to the fabled "Battle at Hadrian's Wall"!  



Happily for us readers, Lockman gave us two very different stories about "Hadrian's Wall" - for Donald in 1966, and for Daffy in 1968!  More "wall" for "all", let's have a ball!  

...And, yes, I said "Daffy in 1968!" 

Because, while March of Comics # 402 appeared in 1975, the story therein was reprinted from 1968's March of Comics # 313!

Look closely, and you'll see a reference to "1968" in one of the panels I reproduced above!  


Look closer still, and you'll find a total of FOUR references to "1968" scattered throughout MOC # 402!  Oops!  Someone was asleep at the time-switch!  

All the more oddly, this story was ALSO reprinted in GOLDEN COMICS DIGEST # 39 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: September, 1974) - where THREE of the FOUR references to "1968" were changed to "1974"... but one was not!  

Golden Comics Digest # 39: ("1974" re-lettered)

March of Comics # 402: (Still "1968" in 1975) 
(Click to Enlarge)

Western Publishing... Ya gotta love 'em! 

Regardless of the year, it was my last comic-read of 2019!  Now, let's usher-in 2020 with WORLD'S FINEST # 106!


There's probably no better way to celebrate a new year than with a good 1950's sci-fi-based-villain story, featuring DC's two greatest heroes...

...Oh, yeah! ...And Robin, too! 

(...Okay, maybe there ARE better ways, but none I'm willing to discuss here!) 

Classic DC artist Dick Sprang could sure draw some great villains!  

And, look... Even some iconic "giant props"!  

Add a villain that's (at least temporarily) a match for Batman (Oh, yeah! ...And Robin too!)... 


...As well as Superman...


...And a good time is had by all...


...Eventually! 
See the lower left of the panel above… Even DICK TRACY admires “The World’s Finest Heroes!”


WORLD'S FINEST # 106 is rounded-out by stories featuring "Tommy Tomorrow" and "Green Arrow and Speedy" - the later of which serves to illustrate just how similar Green Arrow was to Batman!


Let's check the boxes, shall we? 

"Wealthy Guy in a Mansion"?  CHECK!

"Youthful Ward"?  CHECK!

"The Arrow Signal"?  CHECK!  

"The Arrowcar"?  CHECK!  

...And, quite true - no joke, he drove "The Arrowcar" out of "The Arrow Cave"!   CHECK-A-ROONIE!  


Small wonder they made so much of the similarities, which evolved into a rivalry, on the animated series BATMAN THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD!  

Not to mention the comic based on the show! 

Anyway... This post might be just about finished, BUT...

THE HOLIDAYS AREN'T OVER UNTIL I SAY THEY ARE!

We will have at least one more Holiday Post before I'll consider calling it quits.  Be there, won't you?  

BONUS GCD LINKS:  Here are the links to each featured comic at Grand Comics Database!

March of Comics # 402  (I wrote this one!) 

17 comments:

Joe Torcivia said...

Hey, why should I have all the fun?

What was the LAST comic YOU read in 2019? And what was the FIRST comic YOU read in 2020?

Share it with us right here!

Achille Talon said...

Very amusing post! Vic Lockman certainly seemed to love sending his characters back to ancient times — if not the Roman era, then instead a sort of ill-defined Biblicam Middle-East, from the Battle of Petras to a Trip to Tootum-Too… not to forget the memorable business of Og's Iron Bed!

Still, I wonder — you say the plots are quite distinct and I believe you, but are there any commonalities of note between the two "Hadrian's Watefowls" time-travel romps? (Say… there's a pun in there somewhere, you know, in sending Ducks to Hadrian's Wall. Beyond my dubious wall/waterfowl thing, I mean. Because you know what the notorious "duck-billed dinosaurs" are called ? Hadrosaurus. It's a tough'un, but there's gotta be some way to make something out of that, surely…)

I still don't know very much about the DC universe, but I have to say that the idea of a variation on Batman whose version of the Bat-signal is a giant arrow actually pointing at the scene of the crime, the better for the hero to get there, sounds like an outright parody of the Batman concept. A funny one, at that. But then, I'm not the first to remark that perhaps one of the unsung things that make Batman such a popular character and mythos is that while also working well on a "serious" adventure/crime level, it is also unfailingly hilarious whenever one chooses to take it just a bit further and let it dip into parody.

What was the last comic I read in 2019? I think that might've been some rare 1950's and 1960's René Goscinny stories, the couple-of-page ones he did on occasions in-between long-form successes like Asterix and Iznogoud — I was offered the recent hardback collected edition thereof for Christmas, you see. (My family knows me well.) As for the first comic I read in 2020, blimey, I don't rightly know. I think it might have been a 1970's Duck Avenger story from the Duck Avenger Library that the French publisher is still putting out, every two months. Twasn't very good, even, but it's still a very praiseworthy project.

Debbie Anne said...

The last comic read of 2019 and first read of 2020 were both Don Rosa stories in “The Complete Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck” volume 2. (“Last Sled to Dawson” and “Of Ducks and Dimes and Destinies”). The trade paperback “Snoopy: A Beagle of Mars” was the last comic I bought in 2019, and “365 Days with Winnie the Pooh” was the first comic I bought in 2020 (it’s a hardcover collection of the Winnie the Pooh newspaper strips).

Joe Torcivia said...

Excellent choices, Deb!

Well in keeping with your fondness for “things Disney”, while eschewing the “Fresh and Modern” product being foisted on us now! …And, of course, Peanuts is simply “evergreen”! In the 1950s, could Charles Schulz have ever imagined that his creations would so definitively outlive him?

Joe Torcivia said...

Achille:

I *knew* you would have some interesting choices in store for us! Goscinny and Duck Avenger is an even more eclectic pairing than Daffy Duck and Superman/Batman! (…Who, years later, would find themselves under the banner of the same corporate media giant, anyway!)

“…but are there any commonalities of note between the two "Hadrian's Watefowls" time-travel romps? (Say… there's a pun in there somewhere, you know…”

Not really… and that’s to Vic Lockman’s credit, as he HAS been known to cannibalize his own plots for different characters. Especially considering that the Donald story was intended for the “regular comics market” (…whatever that might have been in 1965), and the Daffy story was far more restricted in circulation as a shoe or department store giveaway. He could easily have been a “provider of repurposed plot points, with aplomb aplenty” (as Mr. Lockman might have said on one his his more creative days) – but he DIDN’T!

Okay, sure, a relative was, in one way or another, responsible for the time trips… Gladstone Gander’s “transferred wishing/luck” for Donald, and a wacky time machine inherited by Elmer Fudd for Daffy. But those plot devices were way different enough.

And, “Hadrian’s Wall” was the destination in both stories, which is precisely what I found both interesting and unusual about the two. I’ll assume it was a point of historical interest for Lockman, to have used it more than once.

There is an evil or subversive plot in motion to breech, or otherwise compromise, the Wall in both stories, but ya almost GOTTA have one of those, or else it’s just a… “Roman Holiday”, if you will.

Daffy and Donald discover and foil the plot in two decidedly different ways. And with the extra room afforded the Donald story – we got the brilliant revelation that [ SPOILER ALERT!!! ] the barbarians attacking the wall were the ancestors of the McDucks [ END SPOILER ALERT!!! ] – while, Daffy’s invaders were ordinary (though bearded and barbaric) humans.

So, kudos to Vic for going twice to that well with Ducks, and making each a unique experience.

I’m not looking for “that pun”! Too (all together now) “Horrifically Busy”!

I don’t think that Green Arrow was specifically created to be a knock-off (parody or otherwise) of Batman – if, for no other reason, due to the times in which he was created. Times in which the “humor”, such as it was found in 1950s DC Comics, was more unintended than purposeful. More than likely, they just wanted another costumed-hero to fill more page space. But, as you can see by the more contemporary Batman: The Brave and the Bold material, it is well-acknowledged and purposefully parodied today.

Though, as the sixties wore on, and turned to the early seventies, it was unquestionably noticed at DC, where Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams transformed Green Arrow into something SO MUCH MORE than just “Batman with Arrows” in their groundbreaking GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW series! I first read that stuff in the early eighties – when I got back into comics after being absent for most of the seventies – and it was magnificent then, and remains so today!

Of course, Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams did a little “transformational breaking-of-ground” on Batman too – but that’s another (and equally magnificent) story!

Here’s to lots more great comics in 2020!

scarecrow33 said...

This time of the year, all of my comics reading is Christmas-themed, and it continues beyond New Year's because I have so very, very little time to myself that I can't read it all in December. So here goes: The last comic book I read through in December was "The Flintstones and the Jetsons" #18--"It's a Wonderful Pre-Historic Life." Great story, and excellent use of the character of Gazoo as the being who guides Fred back into a more harmonious frame of mind. So then--bearing in mind that for me Christmas means plane travel, car rental, and many other astonishingly steep expenses--I finally got back to my apartment on the day after New Year's and read my first comic book of the New Year. I read Uncle Scrooge (Gold Key, Number 96, December 1971) "The Thrifty Spendthrift." Of course, I've read it many times before, but I always enjoy it. Barks' take on "The Twelve Days of Christmas" is priceless.

Before Christmas, I managed to read all of the Gold Key Christmas Parades. That's a great way to kick the celebration into high gear. Now I'm working my way through the Gladstone and Disney Comics eras of Christmas comics.

Which is why I echo your sentiment--the holidays aren't over until I say they are! Long may this philosophy reign!

Joe Torcivia said...

As with Achille, I knew you would also have some interesting choices for us, Scarecrow – and that your choices would likely be a little closer to my own! Flintstones and Scrooge… That’s the ticket!

“Which is why I echo your sentiment--the holidays aren't over until I say they are! Long may this philosophy reign!”

Yes, but it can only “reign!” so long before we have to make way for the “April Showers!”

Sérgio Gonçalves said...

Fascinating discovery, that Vic Lockman sent both Daffy Duck and Donald Duck to Hadrian's Wall, with two different plots, to boot! It's remarkable enough for one to exclaim, "Great Scott!" (Though, being a Tintinophile, I would say, "Great snakes!") Use the comics expression of exclamation of your choice, I guess... as long as it's not "Great squeak!"

Love the idea of retailers offering free comics to kids. Sears should revive this practice... it might even save them. (If it doesn't, then nothing else will, I daresay).

The last comic I read in 2019 is Santa Claus Funnies #1, a 1942 gem from Dell, which features some great Christmas stories, including adaptations of "A Christmas Carol" and a story by Hans Christian Andersen about a tree that longs to be a Christmas tree. I'm actually still reading it, making it the first comic book I read in 2020 as well. The first comic book I plan to fully read in 2020? Probably "Terciopelo Negro: La Gondola Misteriosa." Terciopelo Negro, or Black Velvet, is a forgotten Spanish superhero from the 1950s. His stories are set in 15th century Venice.

george greg said...

The last comic that I read in 2019 was, I think, Walt Disney's Comics and Stories No. 544, while the first I read in 2020 was... the very same comic! I read two of the stories in late December, you see, before some holiday-related-matter came up and I put it aside to finish later - which I did, January 1st!

Joe Torcivia said...

Sergio:

I don’t have a copy but, viewing the index of SANTA CLAUS FUNNIES # 1 at GCD (…which you can all do HERE), it looks like quite an amazing book.

The presence of Walt Kelly speaks for itself, and George Kerr (who drew the lead story) did some remarkable work in the earliest issues of NEW FUNNIES – perhaps more of a “children’s book illustrator” (I use that phrase to mean the highest quality that it meant in the 1940s and before) than a “comic book artist”!

That would make a fine companion to THIS GREAT DELL CHRISTMAS COMIC, and the many “Carl Barks-led” issues of CHRISTMAS PARADE!

Honestly, NO ONE did holiday-themed comics as well as Dell – and, especially these days, nobody ever will!

And, at 64 interior pages (GCD counts the covers for a total of “68 pages” – something I don’t necessarily agree with), it would be an easy book to “straddle 2019 and 2020” with!

Joe Torcivia said...

George:

Like Sergio, I see you’ve also “straddled 2019 and 2020” with another very worthy “giant comic”! And, connecting the two even further (albeit tenuously), WDC&S # 544 has a Walt Kelly cover! HERE is its GCD link, for anyone who might wish to see what you enjoyed!

Speaking of “amazing comics”, those first few years of Gladstone were quite remarkable in ways we now take for granted. Coming off the last-dying-gasps of the Whitman comics, they introduced creator credits, letter columns (which I still miss), and opened the door to the great treasure trove of European Disney comics that we have enjoyed ever since. Oh, and gave us Don Rosa, William Van Horn, and John Lustig! I’d say we all owe Bruce Hamilton some kind of debt!

Debbie Anne said...

Gladstone’s books are a treasure. Daan Jippes, Freddy Milton, Ben Verhagen, Volker Reiche, and a bunch of other talents from the Dutch Disney publications were always the ones I hoped to see in Gladstone issues, to the point where I (unfairly in retrospect) looked down my nose at stories by what was then called “The Guttenberghus Group”, whose most frequently featured artists were the talented Vicar and Daniel Branca, both of whom could have almost fooled me into thinking I was looking at a Barks story at times. I was pretty hooked on Barks, Rosa, Van Horn and both Gottfredson and Murry’s Mickey serials too. Poor Romano Scarpa came into the Gladstone issues too late to become a regular feature until Gladstone II and beyond, though. Patrick and Shelly Block never seemed to get their due. They should have gotten to create more stories.

Joe Torcivia said...

Deb:

Gladstone (Series I) was without doubt revolutionary!

Would you still “look down your nose” at “The Guttenberghus Group” today? I never did. Geoffrey Blum made their stories “sing” back then, just as David, Jon, Thad, and I did during IDW 2015-2018. And, after waaaay too many years of Kay Wright and Bob Gregory’s awful art, Vicar and Branca’s mastery of “Barks 1953” and “Barks 1961” (respectively) were not only delightful – but WELCOME!

And you have yours truly to thank for bringing Romano Scarpa (and Eega Beeva) to the USA. Just “read between the lines” of my text piece in Fantagraphics Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson Library hardcover Volume 5 (the Phantom Blot issue). …And just think of all the great things that came in the wake of that!

If there is ANY bigger shame than “The Core Four” being cut down in our creative prime, it is the tragedy of Patrick and Shelly Block never becoming the famous story team that they SHOULD have been!

Debbie Anne said...

Of course I wouldn’t. Vicar and Daniel Branca did some very good work, looking back at it, and you’re right about Geoffrey Blum’s scripts.

Joe Torcivia said...

Deb:

Unfortunately, from this perspective and distance, it’s too easy to overlook the pioneering efforts of Geoffrey Blum. But, as far as the United States is concerned, he was the FIRST (and still one of the best) at creating and enhancing American English dialogue for European-created Disney comic book stories. The rest of us just “followed in his footsteps”… some of us more closely than others.

ShadZ said...

My last comic book of 2019 was the new Suicide Squad #1 (https://www.comics.org/issue/2048512/). It wasn't very good. It starts by adding a bunch of new characters into the Squad, which is misguided -- the Squad works best when made up of existing (altho possibly obscure) characters.

My first comic book of 2020 was Kim Possible Adventures (https://www.comics.org/issue/1926121/). While light as a feather (no story is longer than 6 pages), it's nice to have all these stories together in one place,

Joe Torcivia said...

Shad (you write):

“[The new Suicide Squad #1] starts by adding a bunch of new characters into the Squad, which is misguided -- the Squad works best when made up of existing (altho possibly obscure) characters.”

I completely agree. But, perhaps given the basic premise of Suicide Squad, some of these characters might just BE created to be killed-off!

…Remember Kole, from New Teen Titans? Few of us probably do, but that’s what happens when you create characters for cannon (or “Crisis”) fodder.

Judge Dredd may have done it best when there was a character named “Judge Fodder”, who was created just to be… aw, you know!

Oh, and thanks for offering some GCD links! Here they are for ease of reading…

Suicide Squad #1

I’ve haven’t read it, but… SPOILER ALERT: I’M BETTING HARLEY QUINN SURVIVES! Oh, no! They killed “The Cavalier”? …Curse you, new DC!

Kim Possible Adventures