Red Comet

February 25, 2008

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The Grand Comic Book Database project is an attempt to collate every Comic Book cover from every publisher. They currently have scans of 200,000 Comic Book covers that you can browse through by title/publisher etc etc at:-

http://www.comics.org/index.lasso

I’ve noticed recently more comic covers from other countries are starting to appear on the GCD but here is a cover they are unlikely to have. Red Comet 8 was published by Atlas Comics (no relation) in the UK in 1962. It contains black and white reprints of  stories from Fiction House’s Planet Comics from perhaps 10 years earlier. The cover however doesn’t seem to have been lifted from an issue of Planet Comics

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Format Wars

February 23, 2008

The first record player I ever saw was a suitcase- sized portable that just played 78rpm records. No mains power. You just wound up the main spring with a fold-out handle at the side and carefully placed the needle on the 10″ shellac disc. I was given this to play with when I was 8 years old and proceeded to wreck various Bing Crosby/Glen Miller/Doris Day records.

Eventually I got my own Dansette. Mains power! It played 45rpm singles! The trouble was, aged 10 I only owned a handful of Beatles and Manfred Mann singles. They lived in a trendy wire metal toast-rack thing that was all the rage in the mid 1960s.

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Over the years the collection of singles grew thanks to birthday record vouchers and pocket money. As a student most of the money that wasn’t spent on beer went on 33rpm LP  records. The purchase of an open reel-to-reel tape recorder meant I could make copies of friends’ LPs and tape favourite songs from the radio.  

My first car came with a 8 track tape player and two 8 track tapes which were always jamming. Talk about wow and flutter…..

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I soon replaced it with a compact cassette player and began buying all my favourite music all over again in pre-recorded tape format.

Once CDs were established I bought my favourite music all over again.  Now music is on your computer/mp3 player/SD card/USB stick/mobile phone.  I refuse to buy all the music  I like in yet another format.However I am re-visiting my old singles and albums whilst my record player still works. There are so many of my favourites that I have copied from disc to reel-to-reel, to cassette tape, to recordable CD and now to mp3. I like the phrase “digital preservation”.

Meanwhile I notice you can now buy an mp3 player that has a little handle on the side that you use to charge it up. We’re back where we started………………………… 

Good Paul Sylvan is an enigma. This song  titled Stop Making a Fool of Me sounds like a hit to me. It was a B side in 1970. Its from Paul’s self-titled (and only?) LP from circa 1969/1970 which was also released in the States on the Colossus label. I believe that most of his subsequent career was as an actor.

good-paul-sylvan

Shattered Faith were a punk band from L.A in the early 1980s. I find this high energy song Right is Right superior to most punk before or since..even better than the Ramones… 

Brenda Lawson. The A side of “I’m the one who loves you” is quite good but the B side I’m the one who loves you (version) is a great example of a backing track version where less becomes more.

Charlton Comics

February 21, 2008

I collect Charlton Comics. Not in an organized or obsessive way but if I come across one I do have a tendancy to aquire it. Lets face it, most Charlton Comics are totally bonkers. If you Google hard enough you can find details of Charlton the company. The whole set-up  seems to have been odd. They gave their writers and artists far more freedom than Marvel/DC which evidently compensated for the low page rates they paid. They even printed the comics themselves too.

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 My favourite is Go-Go which was a humour/parody comic  from the mid 1960s when Dick Giordano was in charge of the comic book department. The “Ghost” comics in the 1970s often contained surprisingly good art from Tom Sutton and others. Charlton faded away in the mid 1980s. If they had trademarked the title of this letters page from E-Man back in 1974 perhaps the history of the Internet would  have been different………………….

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The Monsters

February 21, 2008

I have owned this record for many years but have absolutely no information about it. I’ve tried looking in all the usual places and come up blank. This is probably the only place on the whole planet where you can hear this obscurity. The A side is nothing special and titled “The Night of the Monsters Party”. I prefer the B side, called “Monster Comics” here.

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It seems that most of the current comics don’t bother with letters pages. I suppose there are plenty of forums to post comments on.

I’m fascinated by the Letters pages of older comics where you often find letters from teenagers who are now current comicbook artists and writers.

Going even further back and you find letters pages like the one here from DCs Mystery in Space 75 from May 1962. Paul Gambaccini was a regular writer in the 1960s. It is believed to be Paul who first used the phrase “Brand Echh” to describe comic companies other than Marvel (perhaps ACG??)  in a letter to Stan Lee  enthusing about his company. Stan picked up on the phrase and used it regularly. “Not Brand Echh” became the title of a humour/parody comic from Marvel in the late 1960s.

In the 1970s Paul Gambaccini moved to the UK where he became a respected broadcaster at the BBC and elsewhere.

I can’t decide if the “Lord Hume” letter is a spoof or not. He begins by calling himself a “young man” and ends by saying that he has a son. Very strange. 

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Here is just one example of the many many letters that appeared in comics in the 1960s by people who would go on to make comic books their career.

Steve Gerber

February 12, 2008

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The writer best known for creating Howard the Duck died on 10th February 2008. Steve and others of his generation brought much needed new ideas to Marvel Comics in the 1970s. I’ve just been re-reading his run on The Defenders and Nevada along with his current Dr Fate comics. As an early adopter of computers and the internet he had often corresponded with fans on various forums. Over the last year or so I had visited his blog daily where he movingly described his worsening health amongst many other subjects. It is quite moving to read the numerous coments posted there both before and since his death.

Currently his Weblog is still here: www.stevegerber.com/sgblog/

His friend Mark Evanier pays his respects here: www.newsfromme.com/archives/2008_02_11.html

Incidentally Steve’s favourite fan letter was the following.Here is Steve’s introduction:-

The following letter was addressed to the Comics Magazine Association of America, the administrators of the ComicsCode Authority. The CMAA forwarded it to Marv Wolfman, then editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, who passed it along to me.I found it both delightful and gratifying—a validation of everything I hoped to accomplish with Howard the Duck.For those prone to doubt: yes, this letter is absolutely real, and complete except for the author’s last name, which I’ve elected to withhold.I’m pleased to be able to share it with the world at last.

Dec. 17, 1975

Comics Magazine Association of America

Dear Sirs;

It is my understanding that you are the approvers, as per the cover seal bearing your identification, of the comics produced by the company known as Marvel Comics. If this is, indeed, the case, I would like to point out to you something that may have slipped your notice. I am referring to a magazine called HOWARD THE DUCK #2, MARCH, produced and sold by the above-named comic magazine producers.

This is, as far as I have been able to ascertain, the ONLY magazine available regularly that features talking animals of the Disney ilk, and, as such, it provides immediate gratification to a group of consumers who dote on this form of entertainment and who, through lack of alternatives, will purchase THIS magazine before all others of the super-hero, war, mystery variety–I am referring to very young readers.But, once purchased, this magazine becomes a pseudo-sexual, liberal, pseudo-intellectual pretense obviously written by an over-sexed manic depressive.

 For the first seven pages, the talking animal of the book is seen smoking cigars and sharing a bed with a scantily dressed and well-endowed young woman, discussing their “hang ups”. Later in the book, the duck, called Howard, is accosted on a bus by a woman who admonishes him to live clean, eat right and live morally…then this woman is shown as a toothless, raving fanatic that Howard immediately feels compelled to strangle, thus assuring little children that might shall conquer over goodness and righteousness and that the latter two are a sham, a mockery foisted upon the earth by diseased, fanatical, stricken human beings.

Later in the book, Howard’s companion, now dressed a little bit further, after having been reunited with her “human” boyfriend who has been assumed control over by an extraterrestrial turnip, asks said boyfriend if…when he attempts to proposition her…he thinks he can “…sustain a level of AROUSAL?” This is a quote…in a magazine sold to children!The “turnip” also refers to it’s [sic] human host as “meat”…which, while I’m not sure what the harm is in this, hardly seems necessary for, again, the readers of this magazine who, again, I am sure will be, for the most part, children.

I call this to your attention, without including my address, because I do not wish to be bothered answering counter-charges of any sort, because, as guardians of the morality of magazines sold to children, I feel you have been grossly derelict in your duties as set down in your code booklet, and I feel justified in asking that you either correct these errors in the future, or remove your name from the magazine’s covers, so that educators, etc., will not be fooled into purchasing and distributing such garbage to their students, and so that parents will feel that they are being dealt with honestly.

Yours,


Fred A. W——— [Last Name Withheld]


Only when a writer has been called a liberal, pseudo-intellectual, oversexed manic-depressive can he be sure he’s fighting the good fight.

I think this panel is an appropriate way to finish.
gerb

Worlds Worst Comics Awards 2

February 11, 2008

In 1990 Kitchen Sink Comics published two comics delving into the Comic Book Hall of Shame.

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Here is the countdown..

                 neutro1.jpgbluebeetle1.jpgfrankenstein2.jpg supergreenberet1.jpggeek1.jpg  

                   sorcery1.jpgflyman35.jpgcaptainvictory7.jpgmightycrusaders4.jpgskateman1.jpg

But of course since 1990 there must have been thousands of comics far worse than these.