Thursday, August 30, 2018

Be Our Guest Writer: A Tale of a Gift...

 Redartz:  Hello, all! Today we have the benefit once again of storytime, courtesy of our friend Humanbelly! Take it away, HB...

HB:  Good morning, friends!   Although the ComicBookRoom hasn't even had time to collect dust yet, and only just recently got Japanese lantern paper shades on the bare light bulbs, already there's a new centerpiece donation/acquisition that's been added to the permanent display.  Our resident most-talented-guy-we-know. . . PFG(avigan). . . quietly surprised me with this original work he came up with, featuring that Lime freeze-pop (freeze-cicle?) side-kick character that began appearing in the illustrated pieces he'd post every now and again in our on-going Bronze Age communities, here.  --- The usually-mute little green guy with the suspicious moniker:  "Li'l HB". . .  

Using PFG's own words, the piece is a bit of a tribute to   "the sense of respect that all of the contributors and posters had at both Bronze Age Babies and Back in the Bronze Age.  Even when we disagree with each other about who we most appreciated << under the right circumstance I was a fan of both Robbins and Heck >> we always agreed with each others right to appreciate what we did."

Could not agree more, sir-- well-said.   Here is the "page" file itself:

To call me Tickled would be the height of hyperbolic understatement.
Early the next morning, I sent the file off to FedExOffice, and had a lengthy email thread with the tech on getting size, dimensions, etc worked out-- and was finally able to have them print it up on a nice heavy paper stock.
Then off to the scene shop (which has been laying messy and fallow over the summer) to mount it, cover it, and possibly cobble together a frame.   And. . . discovered that an old thrift-store frame abandoned by my scenic artist a couple of years ago was EXACTLY the right size.  So. . . I surreptitiously removed her (forgotten) project, and gave PFG's masterpiece a much better setting than I could have provided on my own.

How was I feeling about all this?

This was the look on my face as I worked-- alone-- pretty much the entire time.  When I was finished, I sat there in the shop, admiring the whole thing, and laughed for 15 minutes.   Then brought it home and hung it next to the still-expanding Hulk Exhibit.

And PFG, I would be remiss if I didn't pass on how wonderfully impressed and appreciative my wife was with your piece, here.   "This is such an honor-- !  It's so good, and he gave it to YOU!  This is wonderful!"   My wife is not one to be tremendously open with enthusiasm or praise, believe me.   There is no doubt that this is her favorite artifact in the entire ComicBookRoom at this point. . .  I thank you once again!

And that concludes today's hi-light report---!


Redartz: Thanks, HB; great story and a truly fine gift. And thanks as well to PFG for sharing your art with us, and your thoughts as well.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Follow the Leader: Episode 88: Heroes of the Greatest Generation!

Martinex1: Cheers all! Can you believe we have Followed the Leader 87 times?  Well buckle up because I am sure the 88th will be a charm! Take it away...

Monday, August 27, 2018

Rank and File: The Year's Best Comic Stories, 1972!

Redartz:  Good day, and welcome everyone! For this episode of  "Rank and File" we cast our eyes upon the earlier Bronze age, to 1972. Our goal: to select some of the finest examples of comic book storytelling available in that fine, vintage year. I've chosen my favorites, using my admittedly subjective criteria (have I actually read it, and did I like it) along with considerations of historical significance, creativity and just plain coolness. Therefore, let us dally no longer with explanations; on with the show...


1. Avengers 100- "Whatever Gods There Be", by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith, Joe Sinnott and Syd Shores. Great classic tale with a plethora of Avengers.


2. Fantastic Four 121- "The Mysterious Mind Blowing Secret of Gabriel", by Stan Lee, John Buscema and Joe Sinnott. One of Stan's last stories, but an interesting way to bring Galactus back...


3. Green Lantern/Green Arrow 89- "And Through Him Save a World", by Dennis O'Neal and Neal Adams. A bit heavy-handed, but a dramatic finish to the O'Neal/Adams run.


4. Marvel Premiere 4- "The Spawn of Sligguth", by Archie Goodwin, Barry Windsor-Smith and Frank Brunner. A tale smacking of horror; a bit different for Dr. STrange, but a good read. And unusual, but nice, artistic pairing of Smith and Brunner.


5. Marvel Team-Up 4- "And Then-The X-Men", by Gerry Conway, Gil Kane and Steve Mitchell. A Solid team-up, solid art, solid stories, just a solid issue. 


6. Amazing Spider-Man 113- "They Call the Doctor...Octopus"; by Gerry Conway, John Romita Sr. and Jim Starlin. A great start to the Ock /Hammerhead war. And interesting to see Jim Starlin over Romita, as well. 


7. Captain America 155- "The Incredible Origin of the Other Captain America", by Steve Englehart, Sal Buscema and Frank McLaughlin. Englehart's phenomenal run on the book is just starting, and already he tackles a biggie: the '50's' Cap!


8. Conan the Barbarian 20- "The Black Hound of Vengeance", by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Dan Adkins. A personal favorite among the Thomas/Smith Conan stories. Absolutely great; and what a cover. Incidentally, this must have been a good year for Mr. Windsor-Smith.


9. Kamandi 1- "The Last Boy on Earth", by Jack Kirby and Mike Royer. The King starts off his post-apocalyptic epic in fine form. Dialogue may  be a bit clunky, but you can't fault his imagination.


10. Swamp Thing 1- "Dark Genesis", by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson. A more detailed origin for the swamp monster, courtesy  of his two initial creators. 


There's my picks; take'em or leave'em. Either way, let us all know why you took them or left them, and pass along your own lists for the Best of '72!

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Short Cuts: "Back to School!"

Redartz:  "Back to School". Three innocuous words, but boy, did they have impact when I was a kid. By late July, when out shopping with my Mom, you'd start seeing the dreaded signs, "Back to School Sale". It was kind of like the judge  handing out a sentence of impending execution. Ok, perhaps that's overstating things a bit. But "back to school" certainly meant the upcoming return to homework, early days at the bus stop, earlier bedtimes for "school nights", and most importantly, the loss of that Summer Vacation freedom. 

Of course there was also some amount of anticipation for the return to school, as well. It was fun to get some new school supplies (especially if they included a Marvel Mead notebook). There were the new school clothes (sometimes more curse than blessing; I still cringe recalling the red plaid pants I got stuck with in fourth grade). And there was the opportunity to catch up with all those friends who you hadn't seen all summer. 

Ok, your homework for today: share your 'back to school' memories....

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Funny Books: The World of Archie...

Redartz:  Hello, everyone! Today we're looking at a big feature of the Bronze Age for many of us, Archie Comics. It's quite possible that some of you may never have picked up an Archie book, so for you, there will be a plethora of covers and a bit of a general overview to clue you in. 


The first Archie comic I ever bought was the first issue of "Archie's TV Laugh-Out", from September 1969. At that time I (like many kids) was a big fan of the Archie saturday morning television cartoon, and had also gotten caught up in "Sabrina the Teen-age Witch". Seeing that this new comic featured Sabrina, I gave it a shot. At that time I was buying a scattershot variety of books from Marvel, DC, Harvey and Gold Key, but hadn't tried Archie yet. It turned out this comic was but the first of many.

By the end of 1970 I'd dropped all the Marvel and DC books, and was only buying a couple Disney and Little Lulu books. But I replaced that comic reading with Archie titles, quickly being enticed by the Archie's Band covers, Sabrina, and also Josie and the Pussycats (I was living proof of the merchandising potential of Saturday morning cartoons). I was amazed at the huge number of comics out each month featuring Arch, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and all the rest. And it didn't take long for me to discern some differences between the books. 

And on that note, let's take a brief look at the array of Archie publications on the stands in the Bronze Age...


Since we've mentioned "Archie's TV Laugh-Out", we'll start with that. It basically featured a couple of stories with Sabrina, rounded out with a variety of short features with Archie and the gang. Some issues also featured "Archie's Band" stories. It was one of many "Giant" sized books published by Archie. 


Continuing with the tv theme,  "Josie and the Pussycats" was another book I picked up frequently. Starring the characters from the Saturday morning show, it presented adventures and pitfalls aplenty. Incidentally, Josie had been published for years prior to the tv show, but the book really took off when the Pussycats joined in.


Adventurous stories were also to be found in two regular-sized Archie books, "Life With Archie" and "Archie at Riverdale High". "Life" began back in the early 60's, and had featured stories with "Pureheart the  Powerful" and the Archie gang as superpowered heroes. The book used many book-length stories, a big difference from many other Archie titles that generally contained several short humor stories. In 1972, "Riverdale High" joined "Life" in carrying these more dramatic tales.


 Like Marvel and DC, Archie published a giant-sized Annual each year. This one starred Archie, others highlighted Jughead, Betty and Veronica. These giants were full of stories of varying lengths, generally humor stories and gag strips. 


"Archie Giant Series" was an ongoing series with a  rotating lineup of monthly titles. Here are two, "The World of Archie" and "Betty and Veronica's Christmas Spectacular". Each holiday season saw several Christmas themed books, with famously festive covers.


 "Pep" and "Laugh" both were long-lived titles originating in the Golden age when Archie was published by MLJ comics. During the Bronze age they contained comic stories of various lengths, gag strips, pin ups, and so forth.


"Archie's Joke Book" is a bit different from the other Archie titles. It focused on single panel, multi-panel or single page gags, with no longer stories. Basically it was exactly what it promised: a joke book.


"Little Archie" obviously presented stories about Archie and his retinue as children. This book gained a big following for the clever, adventurous tales by writer/artist Bob Bolling...


"Archie and Me" was a book devoted to stories involving Riverdale High School's principal Mr. Weatherbee. There also was a "Reggie and Me", starring Archie's perennial rival Reggie. 


"Jughead" was the best place to find stories about Archie's best friend, the hamburger-loving Jughead Jones. "Juggie" owns a level of popularity rivaling that of Arch himself. Jug was always my personal favorite character. Maybe it was the hat.

Now how can we discuss Archie comics without mentioning his two loves, Betty and Veronica? The girls have been the stars of several books all their own, primarily "Archie's Girls Betty and Veronica". Betty also starred in "Betty and Me", and in the 80's, both girls had titles of their own. "Betty and Veronica" seems to be a popular title for collectors; vintage issues bringing some premium prices. Incidentally, this issue of "Betty and Me" had an interesting storyline: a parody of the then-current soap opera "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman". Called "Betty Cooper, Betty Cooper", the feature ran over the course of several months, and took Betty through some pretty strange scenarios.  Oh, if you're wondering "Betty or Veronica?"  For me, it's always been Betty. No contest.

Finally, here's an issue of "Archie Comics Digest". Archie publications made great use of the digest format starting in 1973, and continuing even today. As a matter of fact, the current Marvel Comics digests being sold (finally) in stores and newsstands are actually published by Archie Comics. They know how to do digests..

Okay, so now you've seen some of the massive presence Archie Andrews had on the spinner racks throughout our youthful years. Did any of these, or other Archie titles, find their way into your reading stacks? Which were your favorite characters? Did you watch the tv cartoons? Share your thoughts and memories, and I'll tell Miss Grundy to go easy on you.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Follow the Leader: Episode 87: Adding to the Beatles Red Catalog!

Martinex1: Summer may be wrapping up.  School may be back in session.  But you can always count on Follow the Leader every Tuesday at BitBA!  Get us started pals!

Monday, August 20, 2018

Chew the Fat: What Made Your Bronze Age?

Martinex1:  A couple of days ago Redartz waxed eloquently about the influence of comics on his life. Today define for us what elements of cultural, historical, and even personal events defined your Bronze Age.

How similar are we?  What are the touch points of our generation?  Do we share a common upbringing of events, food, games, literature, and entertainment?  Did a lot of little things create a collective whole that shaped us?  When you think "Bronze Age" what comes to mind? And what does that say about our age group?

Here are just a few examples (some trivial and some important and personal) that pop into my head very quickly.  How about you?

You Might Also Like --

Here are some related posts: