Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Happy Halloween 2019!

I've always wondered how this came to be...

"Frankenstein and Dracula", on the cover and in the lead story of THE FLINTSTONES # 33 (Gold Key Comics, Cover Date: April, 1966), and not "Franken-stone and Dracu-slab"?  

There's also The Wolfman and The Mummy thrown in for good monstrous measure! 

If you have this comic, dig it out and re-read it (...or read it for the first time)!  It wasn't a Halloween-timed release, but it should have been!  

One more interesting Halloween thingee before we close (the coffin?)... 

Here's the cover of WORLD'S FINEST # 152 (DC Comics, Cover Date: September, 1965).  There are FIVE characters on the cover, in costume.  Clark Kent, Bruce Wayne, and Dick Grayson are obvious, but WHO might the "other two" be?  

(Click to Enlarge!)

But, the real interesting (sorta) "Halloween thingee" (I just LOVE writing that!) is found in the issue's letter column, where a mom writes in about making a Batman costume for her son!

First, this was 1965, and I doubt there were ANY "Batman costumes" available anywhere!  The Dark Ages for cosplayers, perhaps?  No Batman, Joker, Riddler, Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy costumes to be photographed in... and, in fact, no Harley Quinn, and Poison Ivy - period! 

YOU had to LAND US is in 1965, didn't you?! 

Then, there is the REPLY from editor Mort Weisinger, or more likely his assistant the amazing E. Nelson Bridwell...

(You'll really want to Click to Enlarge!) 
Poor "Mom" (whose name we have judiciously withheld)... If only she'd waited ONE YEAR, until 1966, there would be Batman costumes, and stuff (even thingees) EVERYWHERE! 

Happy Halloween! 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

New York Comic Con 2019: Post Three of 3!

Um... History's first... WHAT? 

Ah, leave it to Uncle Scrooge to cleverly and succinctly lead us into our topic... (Of course, that was back when Uncle Scrooge REALLY DID speak both cleverly and succinctly, unlike the way he does now.)

...But, I legendarily super-digress! 

The phenomenon of the behavior we now call "cosplay", at least in the context of its invading and overrunning what were once "Comic Book Conventions" in actuality - but have now largely become "Comic Book Conventions" in name only - pretty much occurred before my very eyes.  

In the early eighties, when I first discovered comic-cons as a treasure trove of back-issue wonders, cosplayers were a very small subset of the overall number of attendees. 

They were dressed largely in homemade Star Trek uniforms or, a little closer to the con's reason for being, comic book superheroes and villains.  While we comic book readers and collectors may have looked at them slightly askance, they were an unobtrusive sort who kept to themselves - and almost no one photographed them!

Now, they would seem to be more of a "majority" than the people like me who actually READ comic books and accumulate them for the sheer joy (not profit) of it!  

And all that should be fine with me as I am generally a "live-and-let-live" sorta guy, who objects only to things that make life personally more difficult, bothersome, or distasteful to me. 

But, the sad fact is that cosplayers do exactly that, in their (absolutely unintentional, I must add) actions that hinder my focused quest for comics!  

Perhaps few folks photographed the people-at-cosplay in Ye Olden Days, because it meant that you actually had to PHYSICALLY BRING A CAMERA to the comic con - and, if your aim was to "enter light" and "exit heavy" (with lots of back issue comics), you didn't need to increase the load, by carrying a camera.  

Now, everyone has a camera, via their cell phones, and the "stoppage of traffic" to photograph cosplayers has become an epidemic! Aisles are choked to capacity. Traffic doesn't move without great effort, and heaven help us if an emergency should break out!  

The cosplayers themselves, with their over-large, unwieldy, and unnecessarily dangerous props like swords, battleaxes, and even inappropriately broad wingspans, only add to the inconvenience and the hazard.   

Now, if you think this means I want cosplay banned, you're wrong. That "live-and-let-live" thing remember?  

BUT, here's the solution that's good for everyone...  Designate an area - a LARGE area - for cosplay! Plenty of room for prop 'n' costume preening and, most important of all, photography!  Even partitioned cubicles for dressing, so that you may peruse the rest of the con in the greater comfort of civilian clothes.  

Have it it folks!  Pop those flashes, or whatever cell phone cameras do, until your batteries drop dead of exhaustion!  Live your dreams, without interfering with my comics shopping!  

...Ah, but who's gonna listen to an old curmudgeon!  ...Even a legendary super one like me! 

Friday, October 18, 2019

New York Comic Con 2019: Post Two of 3!

I bought my first ever back issue comic books in the spring of 1980.  I made my most recent back issue comics purchase... today! 

That's a lot of water under the bridge, or comics stored in the long box.  And the experience is both very different from - yet very similar to - the way it was almost 40 (!) years ago!  

Today's purchase was made online. The sites that offer comic books as their primary business (Lone Star, Mile High, and others) couldn't make it simpler.  Just enter the issue title and number and, there it is... or, isn't - if not in stock. But what could be easier and more direct?  

Yet, there is still a thrill in comic-shopping at a big show like New York Comic Con... finding a desired comic from a display of many long boxes, holding it in your hand... tossing it up and letting it hit you on the head... Oh, wait... Scratch that one... It's from Uncle Scrooge!  

...Opening it, right then-and-there, to examine it for hidden flaws - something you don't get to do online!  Finally, there is the negotiation on price, which after so many years of READING Uncle Scrooge, and over a decade WRITING him as well, has simply become "part of the process" - and part of the fun!  

But, my experiences at New York Comic Con 2019 and prior such shows reveal some less-convenient aspects to this type of shopping that are becoming growing trends.  

While the overall shopping experience is made easier by NYCC "consolidating" (thanks, Scarecrow!) the comic book dealers into one corner of the vast convention floor...

...Thereby lessening (though, alas, not eliminating) my exposure to THIS... 

...It's beginning to be the DEALERS themselves, who are making the experience less convenient - and less fun - than it ought to be!   

I can't fault dealers for the aisle-clogging, space-monopolizing, impromptu cosplay photography sessions that occur in front of their booths, preventing customer access.  I'm certain they find that to be far more a problem than I do.  But here are a few pet-peeves that, once again, are becoming trends.  

SELECTION:  Obviously, every customer's taste in comics differs but, at a show of such scope, shouldn't dealers bring more varied - and less recent - stock to sell at such a unique event?  

It is beyond me why there are so many dealers at NYCC stocking little or nothing beyond "recent stuff" that you could easily pick up at a comic book shop!  

Why would you take such inventory to a big show like this?  And, in a town with a healthy share of comic book shops like New York, why would anyone come to NYCC looking for it?  

This should be a place where you come to find the unusual... not the everyday!  

LAYOUT:  Okay, this one is largely due to my (slightly advanced) age... but boxes ON THE FLOOR, as opposed to being up on the display tables, pose problems of personal physicality and of logistics.  

Honestly, my back and my knees can't take very much of this - and I'm in good shape for an "almost-official-senior-citizen".  Unless something looks very promising, I just pass floor-boxes up without a sniff.  That's bad for me and the dealers.  

Logistically, with all the crowding of aisles, sitting or kneeling on the floor to peruse such boxes can be hazardous to the person looking through the box, and those whose line-of-sight is not trained downward.  

 Why "look down", when there's so much to "look up" at?  

ORGANIZATION OF STOCK:  More and more, I'm finding boxes that are NOT MARKED OR LABELED AS TO THEIR CONTENTS, save a general indicator of what "age" (Silver, Bronze, Modern - if that) and general price range.  

I'll only speak for myself but, under the crowded and generally uncomfortable prevailing conditions, I REALLY don't wish to look through rows of "un-marked - or under-marked" boxes!  Especially if all I end up finding are things that are of no interest to me!   

If you're going to have a full box of "Nineties Marvel Dross", be considerate enough to mark the box "Nineties Marvel Dross"!  

It's an obvious "Win/Win"!  I don't waste my time, AND I don't block your display from those who weren't originally burned by the overabundance and falsely-inflated values of "Nineties Marvel Dross" and, for some unfathomable reason, want that stuff today!   

Why shouldn't I KNOW what publisher and general era I should expect to find in a dealer's long box?!  ...Seems such basic organization and labeling was almost always the rule, until recently!  

SHARP STIFF MYLAR:  Yes, I understand you want to make your better books "look their best" but, when thumbing through several boxes of comics in "sharp-edged, stiff Mylar casings", I just end up slicing my fingers - and leaving your booth in pain.  Small wonder I keep none of my personal comics in them, regardless of worth! 

OVERSTUFFED BOXES:  Another source of finger-pain is trying to look at each comic in a grossly-overstuffed long box!  Sometimes they are packed-in so tightly, they DON'T MOVE!  And, if they don't move, I can't get a look at each one without taking them OUT OF THE BOX - one-at-a-time, or in large chunks!  

I realize that your optimistic goal is to sell enough OUT OF these boxes so that there is plenty of room by show's end.  But this is just another annoying and discouraging factor, that has made me "move-on" more times, during this show, than I wanted to!  

IN CLOSING: I wish to emphasize that not all dealers at New York Comic Con 2019 are guilty of these practices. I daresay most aren't - or, at least keep them to a less-annoying minimum.  

But, all of these things are, alas, clearly on the increase as the "old time professional dealers" begin to fade away.  

With online comic book sales easier than ever, I would like to think those involved with a grand spectacle such as New York Comic Con would do everything possible to keep the experience "special" (it still is), but also convenient.  

I'd expect one or two more posts on NYCC 2019 before it's all over!  Be here for them, please!  

Saturday, October 12, 2019

New York Comic Con 2019: Post One of 3!

If you told me, back in 1980-1981, when I attended my first "New York comic cons" (lower case c's because they were more frequent and went by name different proper names), that I would be writing about New York Comic Con 2019 on my Blog, I would stare at you in utter disbelief... I would also ask you "What's a Blog?"  

Yet here we all are... with you readers waiting breathlessly for my report on the proceedings... (that is, if by "waiting breathlessly" you mean "not giving a hoot"... or maybe just a "small hoot")! 

I attended all four days, filled a bunch of holes in my remaining want list, was characteristically annoyed by the usual things that annoy me (think the classic-era animated, put-upon Donald Duck type of "annoyed") - but, in the end, the now-cliched-but-often-true "good time was had by all!"  

I often wonder why they call these gatherings "Comic Cons", when ACTUAL COMIC BOOKS - the first, second, third, and last reason I attend - are increasingly marginalized!  

New York Comic Con has a tendency to relegate comic book dealers to a few aisles in one corner of the vast hall.  Hopefully, the crude drawing below will give you a sense of what I mean.  

I don't know if the use of the term "ghettoized" is still politically correct to use, but that is exactly what the comic book dealers are... and at an event that supposedly and by-its-very-name ought to feature them. 

The rest is dominated by toys, gaming, apparel, props, art prints, media personality items, media giants, and more non-comics doo-dads than you can shake a stick it.  ...And, if you DID "have a stick to shake", it would probably bump one of the all-too-many cosplayers, and those photographing or otherwise fawning over them!  More on that later... 

On the bright side the... um, er... "segmentation" (better word?) of the comic book dealers makes for an easier comic shopping experience, because there's no need for a hardcore comic shopper like me to traverse the entire space.  

I will always prefer the days where comic books were - by far - the dominant attraction of something that calls itself a "Comic Con". Yes, there's much to be said for "making the tent larger"... but now that "tent" has become too large for comfort!  WAAAY TOO LARGE!  

Still in all, it was a successful weekend comics-wise.  Sixteen issues in all, completing five runs. Virtually all of that was accomplished on Thursday, with one straggler pick-up on Friday, and three more at the close of day on Sunday, when last-minute deals are most likely to be made.  

Highlights include:

ADVENTURE COMICS # 297: My last missing issue from when it ran those wonderful "Tales of the Bizarro World" backups, written by the great Jerry Siegel!  

Four issues of BOB HOPE:

Here is but one. 

Chartlton's JETSONS # 6 (completing that run)...

...With an AMAZING DISCOVERY THEREIN, that I plan to fully highlight on the Blog someday.  But, for now, you may satisfy your curiosity by reading these two entries I made on the GRAND COMICS DATABASE (at which I've finally become a full-member indexer) - HERE and HERE!    

HINT: Be sure to read the "Indexer Notes"!  

And, after nearly 30 years, I finally got a really nice copy of MICKEY MOUSE # 138, to replace the terrible old... er, "ratty" (Sorry, Mickey!) one I've had all along!  

...And for only TWO DOLLARS!  That's a great comic, very likely written by Cecil Beard, drawn by the vastly underrated Jack Manning - and featuring villains Emil Eagle, Dangerous Dan Mc Boo, and Idjit the... the... the... um, "very nasty little person?"  (...Would we even see Idjit today, I wonder?)  

All this classic seventies Gold Key goodness for HALF THE PRICE of those "Fresh and Modern" things the parent company is inflicting on us today! (...Didn't ya just KNOW that was coming?) 

Me?  I'll take vanilla... and MICKEY MOUSE # 138!  

We'll be back with more New York Comic Con 2019 posts!  But, for now... As I used to say when "The Issue At Hand" was a print column... "Good Night and Good Comics Reading!" 

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Watch That War-Whoop, Williams!

We close our celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Scooby-Doo with a look at Scooby's most unheralded comic book publisher, dovetailing into next year's 60th Anniversary of The Flintstones!  

Can't wait to see how we pull-off this one... 

In early 1974, Charlton Comics assumed publication of SCOOBY-DOO, from Gold Key Comics, adding everyone's favorite cowardly Great Dane and his ghost-getting gang to the stable of Hanna-Barbera comics that were also formerly published by Gold Key.

Okay, maybe a little too much empty space at the top of that first issue, but an otherwise good cover by artist Bill Williams!

Inside, are three so-so stories written by Charlton veteran Joe Gill that were nicely drawn by Williams, who seemed to be emulating the style of Dan Spiegle - who had famously drawn the SCOOBY-DOO title for Gold Key!

At least one of those stories would never pass muster today...

...For more reasons than I'd even wish to consider!

Oh, the Cavalry (Are they reenactors? Joe Gill's story never makes it clear!) are firing SACKS OF FLOUR, for whatever reason!  ...Oh, wait... I know the reason for ALL of it... IT'S CHARLTON!  (...Silly me!)

But, the primary reason for showcasing this sequence is to highlight this rare Hanna-Barbera in-joke!

Clearly, the Native American warrior at the far right, is speaking some ancient language that has become "lost to history"...

...Or some "place right out of his-tor-ree"!  
Good one, Charlton!  

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Adventures in Comic-Boxing: Scooby-Doo You Are New!

To continue celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Scooby-Doo, let's go all the way back to the beginning... of Scooby's COMICS career!  It all started with a rather ordinary blurb that would... um, "unleash" something special, that still continues today!  

...But, first, some background! 

The "Gold Key Comics Club" was, to me, a decidedly unwelcome alteration to my favorite line of comics, since it first appeared in issues released in January, 1967!  

I first saw it in DONALD DUCK # 112!   

It carved out SIX PAGES that would otherwise be devoted to comics material for nonsensical things having nothing to do with the particular comic or the characters found therein.

But, eventually, at least ONE PAGE of those wasted six would be put to good use, as a guide to what was coming up in Gold-Key-World!

And, in those days where there was virtually NO information available on which comic titles were available and which ones had been cancelled (without any formal notice), this was a very useful resource indeed! 

Per that page, here are the Gold Key Comics that were released in December, 1969.

And, with all that good stuff to choose from back at the close of the 1960s, one might very well have overlooked a modest announcement of the first issue of a new title, based on a Saturday morning cartoon that had just debuted that past September!

And here IS that first issue of SCOOBY-DOO WHERE ARE YOU!

At the time, comic book distribution was so inconsistent and haphazard that, despite being a fan of the cartoon - and despite the notice from Gold Key - I never found that first issue!  And would wait until I purchased it as a back issue (something also unheard of in 1969 - at least to me) in the 1980s!

I did, however, find the SECOND ISSUE at my corner newsstand/soda fountain/candy store... you know, the kind of place that you bought comic books from back then!

And, from that point on, I collected as many of them as the (...all together now) inconsistent and haphazard distribution methods of the time would allow...

...Eventually subscribing, once mail subscriptions to the SCOOBY-DOO title were allowed...

...And following Scooby and the gang through a variety of publishers! 




HARVEY (Which reprinted CHARLTON, with only new covers!):


And finally - DC COMICS, where Scooby-Doo remains from 1997 to the present day, in a variety of forms:

...Including even THIS!

WHEW!  That dog sure gets around!  

But, it all started with THIS...

...And, before that, THIS!

...Poor BANDIT, Hanna-Barbera's ORIGINAL cowardly adventuring dog can only look on in grudging appreciation of Scooby's comic-book accomplishments!