Saturday, January 26, 2013

Reading Room: WEIRD ADVENTURES "Man Who Lived Backwards"

What if someone tried to prevent you from reaching tomorrow...
...and the only way you could move forward was to kill him in the past?
Check out this never-reprinted tale from Ziff-Davis' one-shot Weird Adventures #10 (1951) for the answer!
So, even though Paul had a change of heart, and tried to save David, his rival for Peggy died anyway, and Paul ended up with the woman they both loved!
What's the moral?
You can change history, even if you don't intend to?
Being good, even if it may be to your personal detriment, will be rewarded in the end?
Ah, well, I guess there are some things we're not meant to understand...
It may be just as well that both the writer and artist are unknown.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Reading Room: "Robots of Ra"

For sheer weirdness (not to mention incomprehensibility), few stories can top this tale...
...from the back of Youthful's Captain Science #2 (1951)
You'll note the art style for this never-reprinted story varies wildly from page to page.
The credited artist, Walter Johnson, depended heavily on assistants to produce a high volume of pages for the various comics companies (including Avon, St John, Fiction House, and Youthful Publications) he supplied art to!
The work of several different illustrators with varying levels of draftsmanship is apparent on this one story, including one or more who swipe from both Flash Gordon's Alex Raymond and Phantom Lady's Matt Baker!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Reading Room: WEIRD THRILLERS "The Menace of R-Day"

In the 1950s, it was thought that war could be ended by 1999...
...and that other menaces would threaten the Earth, instead!
This somewhat-hokey, but entertaining, sci-fi tale from Ziff-Davis' Weird Thrillers #1 (1951) was both penciled and inked by Ross Andru.
Andru would later partner with Mike Esposito with Ross as the penciler and Mike doing the inking.
Whether this was because Esposito was faster at inking than Ross, or Andru enjoyed doing only pencils is unknown.
Considering Andru seemed pretty damn good at inking, it's a pity he eventually gave it up.
BTW, the writer of this never-reprinted tale of mechanical mayhem is unknown.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Reading Room: OUTER SPACE "His Own Little World"

After co-creating Spider-Man and Dr Strange, Steve Ditko left Marvel Comics...
...in a dispute over credits and royalties for reprints and licensed merchandise based on his co-creations.
He continued to work for almost everyone else in the industry, including one of his early haunts, Charlton Comics, where, besides co-creating the new Blue Beetle and The Question, he revamped his first super-hero co-creation, Captain Atom, and also illustrated numerous sci-fi and horror one-shots, like this one!
If you compare this tale from Charlton's Outer Space V2N1 (1968) to Ditko's earlier work, you'll see it appears to be less-detailed.
But that's actually an optical illusion!
Before 1967-68, comic book art was usually drawn twice as large (12 1/2" x 18 1/2") as the size it was printed at.
In '67-68, the primary comic color separation company, Chemical Color Plate, changed the original art size to the smaller 1 1/2 times printed size (10" x 15") so more pages could fit on their photostat cameras' platen at a time in order to both speed up the production process and reduce costs.
The major comic companies, who provided paper to their artists free of charge, quickly began providing the smaller-size stock, to encourage the transition.
It appears this story was done on the smaller-size paper.
So, while Ditko was still inking at the same detail-level he had done previously, because the art wasn't reduced as much as it was earlier, the final product looked less-detailed!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cover Gallery: FANTASTIC WORLDS & LOST WORLDS

They only ran for a combined total of five issues...
Art by Alex Toth
...but Standard's short-lived sci-fi anthologies Fantastic Worlds and Lost Worlds had some first-rate talent both on the covers and inside them!
Art by John Celardo
And, all five covers had something unique in common...
...the covers had nothing in common with the interior stories!
Art by Alex Toth & Mike Peppe
Despite the captions, which did mention titles from stories that ran in the books...
Art by Mike Sekowsky & John Celardo
...the art didn't depict anything even close to what was in the tales!
But they sure look kool, don't they?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Reading Room: WEIRD FANTASY "Judgement Day"

As Rod Serling, Gene Roddenberry, and Al Feldstein could tell you...
...one of the best aspects of science fiction was the opportunity to present commentary on social issues that you couldn't otherwise show due to censorship.
Most of this blog's audience is too young to know, first-hand, that the societal conditions shown on Cybrinia were, in fact, the way American society was structured up to the mid-1960s.
This story originally-appeared in EC's Weird Fantasy #18 (1951) to mostly-positive feedback.
But that was pre-Comics Code!
When it was scheduled to be reprinted in Incredible Science-Fiction #33 (1956) it had to be submitted to the newly-created Comics Code Authority.
As explained in the superb book Tales from the Crypt: the Official Archives by Digby Diehl...
This really made ‘em go bananas in the Code czar’s office. 
“Judge [Charles] Murphy was off his nut. He was really out to get us”, recalls [EC editor Al] Feldstein. “I went in there with this story and Murphy says, “It can’t be a Black man”. 
But … but that’s the whole point of the story!” Feldstein sputtered.
When Murphy continued to insist that the Black man had to go, Feldstein put it on the line.
“Listen, he told Murphy, “you’ve been riding us and making it impossible to put out anything at all because you guys just want us out of business”.
[Feldstein] reported the results of his audience with the czar to [EC publisher Bill] Gaines, who was furious [and] immediately picked up the phone and called Murphy.
“This is ridiculous!” he bellowed.
“I’m going to call a press conference on this. You have no grounds, no basis, to do this. I’ll sue you”.
Murphy made what he surely thought was a gracious concession.
“All right. Just take off the beads of sweat”.
At that, Gaines and Feldstein both went ballistic.
“Fuck you!” they shouted into the telephone in unison.
Murphy hung up on them, but the story ran in its original form.
It was the final comic book EC Comics published.
MAD was converted into a b/w magazine, removing it from Comics Code approval, and reprints of EC's comics were published in paperback format, also exempting them from the Code.
Think of how racial attitudes in America have changed...on the day celebrating both Dr Martin Luther King, Jr's. achievements in civil rights, and the second inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Family Emergency

Due to my Significant Other's broken toe (and unwillingness to go to an overcrowded Emergency Room), I'm performing nursing duties on her today.
Remember, family is the most important thing in your life, whether it's your parents, siblings, mates, or extended family.
See you tomorrow.
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