Saturday, February 10, 2018

Before Black Panther Got His Own Book...There Was LOBO!

In 1966, the year the Black Panther debuted in Marvel's Fantastic Four...
...Dell Comics went them one better, introducing the first Black hero to get his own comic!
Other Black characters had their own series in anthology titles, but Lobo was the first to have his name AS the comic's title! 
Lobo combined a couple of popular plot concepts...
Man on the Run for a Crime He Did NOT Commit
Exemplified by then-hit tv series The Fugitive, Lobo was framed, but couldn't prove his innocence.
Lone Western Hero
A loner wandering the Old West, righting wrongs was an especially popular genre in tv Westerns.
Variations on the theme included gamblers (Maverick) and martial-arts experts (Kung Fu)
Note: the tv series Branded also combined both the Loner and Man Framed themes!
...as well as a new concept:
Prominent Black character
Black characters (except for sterotypes like Amos 'n Andy) were few and far between on tv until the mid-1960s, and even then only as supporting characters (usually servants).
1960s urban dramas like Naked City and East Side, West Side, which dealt with current social themes had Black guest stars including James Earl Jones and Diana Sands, but no Black regulars.
Star Trek (1966) had both a Black regular character (Lt. Nyota Uhura) and Black actors in prominent roles as scientists and high-placed officers (admirals, etc,).
But, at that point, there were no tv series with a Black lead or Black title character!
(Diahann Carroll's groundbreaking series Julia didn't debut until 1968, two years later!)
So, Lobo was, to say the least, a daring experiment, albeit one with as many popular themes as possible to maximize sales potential!
Dell writer/editor Don (DJ) Arneson and artist Tony Tallarico felt the time was right, and managed to convince their publisher to take a chance.
(You can read Arneson's tale of Lobo's creation HERE.)
Unfortunately, it didn't work.
Many vendors outside of East Coast cities refused to even put a comic with a Black hero on their racks, and the book had an almost 90% return rate.
Lobo the comic only ran two issues.
It's rumored that a script and unfinished art exist for a third issue, but that's never been confirmed.
You can read both issues of Lobo HERE and HERE.

And don't forget our line of Lobo comic collectibles, including t-shirts, mugs, and other goodies at...

Friday, February 9, 2018

Friday Fun JETTA OF THE 21st CENTURY "Jet Jaunt"

We've run several Jetta tales on this blog (as seen HERE)...
...but now it's time to complete the strip's re-presentation as our latest Friday Fun series!
 
OK, maybe it's just as well that we of the real 21st Century still don't have flying cars...
As you might have guessed, Archie artist Dan DeCarlo was the illustrator for this tale from Standard Comics' Jetta of the 21st Century #5 (1952), which was actually her first issue!
(Issues 1-4 were a romance comic called Today's Romance!)
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Dan DeCarlo's Jetta

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Reading Room OUTER SPACE "Misfits"

Here's a Steve Ditko-rendered piece with some of the oddest aliens he's ever done!
Strangely, though the planet is said to be Jupiter, from space, it looks like Saturn!
This wasn't the only Ditko-illustrated tale in Charlton's Outer Space #20 (1959) to feature Jovians!
There's another one featuring quite different inhabitants of Jupiter who meet a far different fate on Earth!
Why didn't the editor just reletter "Jupiter" to "Saturn" in this tale, especially since both stories appeared one-after-another in this issue?
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Reading Room ASTONISHING TALES "Doctor Doom: ...and if I be Called Traitor--!"

...as the evil ruler of Latveria and the heroic monarch of Wakanda face off under a Herb Trimpe-rendered "split cover"...
In Marvel's Astonishing Tales #8 (1970), writer Gerry Conway and penciler Gene Colan step into the middle of a two-part story and while Colan (who's previously-drawn both Doctor Doom and the Black Panther) does an amazing job, Conway falls flat when it comes to his knowledge of both Wakanda and Vibranium!
Despite the flaws in continuity (and simple logic), Conway does convey the differences in T'Challa and Victor's attitudes towards their respective constituencies and abstract concepts like "honor" and "responsibility", as well as the fact Doom respects the Panther both as a strategist and a fellow ruler!
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(which reprints this story...but in black-and-white!)

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Reading Room ASTONISHING TALES "Doctor Doom: Tentacles of the Tyrant!"

There are some all-but-forgotten Silver and Bronze Age stories featuring the title character of...
including this tale behind a "split cover" by penciler John Buscema and inker Frank Giacoia!
You'll note the cover text mentions "T'Challa", not "The Black Panther", even though he's in costume!
When this issue of Marvel's Astonishing Tales (#6) came out in 1971,  controversies involving the political movement known as the Black Panthers were at their peak, such as this murder/kidnapping trial which ended in a mistrial.
Marvel was in a bit of a bind, as they had been developing plans to give T'Challa a higher profile thanks to his ongoing appearances as a member of The Avengers (which, at that point, featured characters who didn't have their own series).
So, when the Panther guest-starred in other titles (like here), or was cover-featured in The Avengers...
...he was promoted as "T'Challa", not the "Black Panther"!
When he appeared in Fantastic Four #119 (1972), though cover-featured as "T'Challa"...
...he proclaimed himself "Black Leopard", instead of "Black Panther".
But that's a story for another time...
Meanwhile, Doctor Doom scripter Larry Lieber (who hadn't handled the Black Panther previously) seems woefully uninformed about Wakanda in general and Vibranium in particular, with the most obvious fact being the Vibranium Mound isn't a volcano!
Two trivia notes:
Larry Lieber had written and penciled the first half of Doom's full-length cover-featured story in Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (1969), which would explain why he got the nod to write the ongoing Doom strip in Astonishing Tales a year later!
Penciler George Tuska would draw Dr Doom's two-issue encounter with Marvel's other major Black hero in Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #8 & #9 (1973)
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(which reprints this story...but in black-and-white!)
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