Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Best of Reading Room: RACE FOR THE MOON "Invasion"

Some people called early television "just radio with pictures"...
...a premise taken to an obvious extreme in this tale...
Unfortunately, the technological level of tv fx in 1958, when this story was published in Race for the Moon #1, make the events of the story highly unlikely.
The primary reason the inspiration for this story, the 1938 War of the Worlds radio hoax by Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre of the Air, worked was because peoples' imaginations ran wild, fueled by sound effects and well-written dialogue!
The "visuals" were in their heads!
Nonetheless, the unknown writer and artist Bob Powell did their best in only five pages.
And, the comic's intended audience, kids aged 9-15, could accept the premise, especially if they had no knowledge of the Welles radio show, which wasn't often rebroadcast until old radio show reruns made a comeback in the mid-1960s on college radio stations and lp albums.

NOTE: This story is a radically toned-down version of a tale that appeared a decade earlier!
Tomorrow we'll show you how it ORIGINALLY looked...pre-Comics Code, which has NEVER been reprinted!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

MOPSY "Taxes"

The average person's fear of April 15th hasn't changed in decades...
...as this page from Charlton's TV Teens #9 (1955) shows!
If the fashions seem a little dated for 1955, that's because this series consisted of reprints of 1940s newspaper strips along with several stories created for Mopsy's first comic book series in the late 1940s.
Creator Gladys Parker wrote and drew all Mopsy material without "ghosts" to help, and when she retired in 1965, the strip ended.
Parker passed away the following year.

Trivia: The filing deadline for individuals was March 1 in 1913 (the first year of a federal income tax), and was changed to March 15 in 1918 (inspiring many jokes about having to "beware the Ides of March"), then to April 15 in 1955.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Reading Room ALIEN ENCOUNTERS "Earth Invasion"

There's a twist ending to this alien invasion tale you won't see coming...
...if you're under 30!
I'm serious!
Ah, video arcades...
Kids today have no idea how important those darkened chambers filled with video consoles and pinball machines were to us in the pre-XBox/PlayStation/Nintendo days...and how much money we spent, quarter-by-quarter, in them!
Yeah, there's still Chuck E Cheese, Dave & Busters, and their ilk, but those are kiddie venues!

Written by Larry Shell and illustrated by Steve (Swamp Thing) Bissette, this never-reprinted tale from FantaCo's Alien Encounters one-shot (1981) captures the long-lost era perfectly.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Best of Reading Room SPACEHAWK "Creeping Death from Neptune"

How could you not want to read a story with a title like that?
Plus: story and art by the unique (to put it mildly) Basil Wolverton!
This premiere appearance from Novelty's Target Comics V1 N5 (1940), written and illustrated by Wolverton, was just the tip of the iceberg!
SpaceHawk "unmasked" a couple of issues later, but the legend was already well-established, and the fact he was a "mere" human who could take down aliens several times his size and strength only made him even more fearsome to his foes...

BTW, we're packing to make the move to a new home (almost double the size of our current digs), so some of the posts over the next two weeks (like this one) will be "Best of..." re-presentations mixed in with some new ones (like on Easter).
Things will be back to normal by the beginning of May.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Reading Room: Flying Saucers x Four #4 "Impossible Spaceship"

The final version of the story doesn't even include the words "flying saucer" in the title...
...and the ship design itself is closer to Star Trek or 1960s Italian sci-fi like Planet of the Vampires (one of my all-time faves)...
Published in the back of Marvel's Strange Tales #101 (1962), this MadMan-era, never-reprinted, Don Heck-illustrated, Stan Lee-scripted tale was the final version of a Stan Lee plot involving sentient alien spacecraft first used in 1953 (HERE), then re-used in 1958 (HERE), and 1960 (HERE).
NOTE: Atlas had given way to Marvel several months earlier with Amazing Fantasy #15 (first Spider-Man) and Fantastic Four #1 in 1961.
(When Spider-Man received his own title a year later, the FF were cover-featured guest-stars!)
BTW, the cover feature for this issue was the introduction of the Human Torch's short-lived solo strip!
Weird Trivia: All four of the issues these stories originally appeared in had a number "1" in the issue numbering (21, 1, 11, 101)!
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