Saturday, March 26, 2016

Reading Room: SPACEHAWK "Moon Justice"

Basil Wolverton really enjoyed doing SpaceHawk...
...and even took a crack at writing a short text story starring the character, as seen in this tale from Target Comics #15 (1941)
The same issue this prose piece appeared, the SpaceHawk strip's format was changed in a direction Wolverton was not happy about; moving the hero from outer space to Earth to use his advanced technology to battle threats from thinly-disguised surrogates of the Axis powers.
(This was pre-Pearl Harbor, and we weren't at war at the time, so the stories were still set in the future!)
Once America entered the war, SpaceHawk was actually transported thru time to the "present day" (1942) to fight the real Hitler, Hirohito, Mussolini, and their minions.
So you might consider this text story to be Wolverton's last try to convince the editor to keep the strip in deep space.
It didn't work.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Holiday Reading Room: TICK-TOCK TALES "Koko & Kola Meet the Red Easter Bunny"

Walt (Pogo) Kelly didn't have a monopoly on Easter-themed stories...
...in fact, Magazine Entertainment's Tick Tock Tales #4 (1946) presented both a cover and several stories (including this one) featuring it's ongoing characters teamed-up with the Easter Bunny!
The artwork is by Leon Jason Comic Art Studios who supplied funny-animal art to numerous publishers including Magazine Entertainment, Spotlight Publishing, Novelty Press and EC Comics (before they did horror) during the 1940s and '50s.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Reading Room 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY "Norton of New York 2040 A.D." Conclusion

After a disappointing interactive experience at the Comicsville amusement facility, Norton heads home...
Can a comics fanboy save the Earth?
At the time (1975), writer/penciler Jack Kirby was heavily-criticized for much of his output after returing to Marvel.
The audience wanted more Marvel continuity-oriented material, considering his Captain America and Black Panther series to be too drastic a change in their creative direction and new projects like Eternals, Devil Dinosaur, and 2001 (which didn't tie-in to the Marvel Universe) to be eccentric failures.
Kirby ended up integrating some series into the MU, introducing S.H.I.E.L.D. into The Eternals and creating X-51 (originally called "Mister Machine", but altered to "Machine Man" when Ideal Toys claimed trademark infrigement.) in the final three issues of 2001.
Marvel brought Devil Dinosaur into conflict with Godzilla, then made him a member of Fallen Angels.
Ironically, Kirby's work from this period is now lauded as exciting, innovative, and even astoundingly-creative and is almost all back in print (except for 2001, due to licensing problems!)

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Reading Room 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY "Norton of New York 2040 A.D." Part 1

Jack "King" Kirby presented the idea of an interactive comics-themed amusement park 39 years ago...
...in this never-reprinted tale from Marvel's 2001: A Space Odyssey #5 (1977).
And kids today wonder why we still call him "The King".
BTW, at the time, letters columns and fanzines (we didn't have blogs and message boards back then) complained Kirby was mocking comics fans!
Written and penciled by Kirby, inked by Mike Royer, this highly-imaginative series based on the concepts presented in the landmark Stanley Kubrick/Arthur C Clarke cinematic collaboration and goes off in directions that only Kirby could conceive.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Reading Room CRUSADER FROM MARS "Death in the Soil"

We've presented almost all the tales of the short-lived Crusader from Mars...
...and now, at long last, here's the only one we haven't run!
Illustrated by Henry Sharp, and probably written by editor Jerry (Superman) Siegel, the second story from Ziff-Davis' Crusader from Mars #1 (1952) continues the theme that the major example of "Evil on Earth" Tarka and Zira must battle is Communism!
Though the adventures of the earlier Ziff-Davis Martian, Lars of Mars, have been reprinted several times (including a 3-D adaptation), the saga of the Crusader from Mars has been kept from the eyes of a sci fi-loving audience for over 60 years!
We've corrected that oversight with a complete re-presentation of his too-brief stay on Earth...
"Death in the Soil"
BTW, isn't it a shame there was never a Lars/Crusader crossover?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Reading Room JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY "Three Who Vanished"

One of the joys of doing things like Reading Room...
...is uncovering a long-lost treasure, like this never-reprinted tale from Atlas' Journey into Mystery #50 (1959)!
With a (admittedly somewhat-misleading) cover by Joe Sinnott, art by Steve Ditko, and script probably by Larry Lieber (Stan Lee almost always had his byline on his own scripts), it's a great example of the sort of energy and creativity that was just waiting for a spark to coalesce into what would become Marvel Comics only a year or so later.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Holiday Reading Room: EASTER WITH MOTHER GOOSE "Ten Little Easter Eggs"

Here's a perfect rhyme for the little ones...
...from the typewriter and brush of legendary comic creator Walt (Pogo) Kelly.
Published in Dell's Four Color Comics #103: Easter with Mother Goose (1946), this gentle little piece is a classic example of kid-friendly material rarely-seen today.
(And please, no politically-correct comments about the "Two little Easter eggs playing with a gun" rhyme.)
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