Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Reading Room: BIG APPLE COMIX "Token"

In the early 1970s, there were a lot of underground / alternative comics...
...but this HTF 1975 one-shot is one of the koolest, if only for it's awesome lineup of big-name New York-based comics talent including:
Wally Wood (who did the amazing cover above as well as a NSFW spoof of his classic "My World" strip, plus he wrote a second strip and inked a third.)!
Al Williamson, who illustrated the NSFW strip written by Wood, illustrating a Roy Thomas-lookalike nerd thrust into a world of barbarians, nude princesses, and monsters, becoming a loincloth-wearing, sword-wielding hero!
Plus: Neal Adams, Larry Hama, Ralph Reese, Paul Kirshner, Archie Goodwin, Marie Severin, Mike Ploog, Alan Weiss, Stu Schwarzberg, Linda Fite, and Herb Trimpe.
Edited and published by Flo Steinberg (known as "Fabulous Flo" when she was Stan Lee's Gal Friday during the Silver Age), the comic was sold primarily in "head shops" and sleazy bookstores since the direct market was in it's infancy and there were maybe two dozen comic book shops in the entire country!
The comic is a tribute to New York City, the city we love, the city we hate, the city we love to hate and hate to love.
(Yeah, I'm born and raised in NYC...Brooklyn, to be exact!)
There's lots of venting of cynicism and irritation, like the cover with commuters just standing there with an "It's always something!" attitude instead of fleeing in terror as most populaces do at the sight of giant monsters tearing up the skyline.
And then there's the gentle, poetic side as shown by the highly-underrated Herb Trimpe's visual treat...
BTW, the object in question is a subway token.
Their use was discontinued almost a decade ago in favor of "smart cards", so there are probably readers of this blog who have never used, or even seen them.

Penciler/inker Herb Trimpe, who fell into disfavor with Marvel in the 1990s, despite trying to adapt by becoming a Rob Liefield clone, was as much a part of their Silver and Bronze Age success as the Buscema brothers, Don Heck, John Romita Sr, Dick Ayers, Frank Giacoia, Joe Sinnott, or any of the other hardworking craftsmen of the era.
He's still around, making a living as a teacher, and occasionally doing some comic book work.

We'll be presenting the family-friendly stories from this landmark title over the next few weeks, so keep an eye out for them!

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