Sunday, August 8, 2010

Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal: #59 part two


image from IDW 2009 reissue of both DETECTIVES INC. stories including the original-graphic-novel, whose review is referenced below. amazon.com (with bonus Rob Clough customer reviews!) and mycomicshop.com product pages.

THE COMICS JOURNAL 59 part two: buy here
After a long delay here we are again analyzing some of my favorite issues of the print version of THE COMICS JOURNAL. Acknowledgement must go to Peter Coogan and his ground-breaking online index of The Journal which is an essential tool for anyone doing research on the seminal magazine, and a tool I rely on heavily as I don't have many of those early issues. The late Jerry Bails's online Who's Who of American Comic Books is another great help in researching who was doing what when. And, of course I didn't even know about The Grand Comics Database when I first started this research project! Check out these sites for help in your own comics research, and remember to check around various print and web sources to verify your facts (I'm not the greatest at this but am trying to improve).

THE COMICS LIBRARY/GRAPHIC STORY REVIEWS:
"McGregor's 'Detectives, Inc.': Artless, Prating Emotionalism" (pages 40 42 44 46) by Kim Thompson [Remember a lifetime ago, when going over The Journal 38, I suggested Mr. Thompson and Gary Groth would find more worthy subjects for their review efforts? No, didn't think so. Anyway, this is a murder in print of Don McGregor and Marshall Rogers's original Eclipse-graphic-novel-version of DETECTIVE INC. (even the letterer, Tom Orzechowski is kicked in the family jewels for his part in the debacle). This might be a harbinger of things to come. As The Journal continually refused to accept mediocre comics dressed up as "graphic novels," or published outside the big two publishers as pale shades propped up in genre trappings of melodrama or power-fantasy, as the maturing of the medium. Were in fact insulted or angrily disappointed by this betrayal of what they thought was the comics medium's potential.]
[this entire review was posted on tcj.com and is found in the archives here, a well-reasoned counter-point review of DETECTIVES, INC. by Robert Fiore was published as the opening piece of The Journal 65.]

"God Isn't Dead! He's Just Blitzed Three Sheets to the Wind!" (pages 46-47) by David Stallman [Something that supposedly was a rarity in The Journal, a positive review! This time of "The Alchemist Supreme" serial by Godard/Ribera (translated by interview subject Ted White) from HEAVY METAL May-September 1980 (also a link to HM index of issues edited by Ted White). Reviewer Mr. Stallman gets so worked up he even quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson at the beginning of his article.]

"Super-Heroes Without Pictures" (pages 49-50 52) by Peter Sanderson; illustrations: Tony Caputo, Scott McCloud [Perhaps it might be strange to some to see sometime Marvel historian Mr. Sanderson writing for The Journal, but I believe the editors never discriminated against good writing. And this is a well-written critique of a precursor to so many superhero prose novels, short story collections, or shared-world anthologies that proliferated in the late eighties and beyond. THE MARVEL SUPERHEROES was one of those Pocket Books/Marvel Comics efforts, only this one (edited by Len Wein/Marv Wolfman) contained original prose short novels written by comics writers Jim Shooter, Mary Jo Duffy, the aforementioned editors, and the possibly pseudonymous Kyle Christopher.]

CAPSULE REVIEWS:
"Justice League of America 186" (page 52) by David Stallman
"The Hulk! 23" (pages 52-3) by Gary Groth [This review starts out with a hellish thrashing of a Jim Shooter Hulk story, a must read for admirers of Mr. Groth's writing: "Don't homosexuals have enough problems with heterosexual bigotry without being cast as thugs and rapists in the latest issue of the HULK! magazine? To be fair to the writer, Jim Shooter, homosexuals aren't the only literary victims here: heterosexuals get it too, and, believe it or not, even drug addicts are maligned in what may well be the most falsified characterization of a drug addict in the history of American media. I can't even begin to enumerate the bad dialogue, melodramatic fakery, and manipulative sentimentality with which this story abounds. Even the Hulk's tantrums, turning over cars, smashing buildings, and mouthing infantile dialogue looks sillier than usual when placed in the context of bad human melodrama. Suffice it to say that this is Marvel's version of an adult story, replete with an attempted homosexual rape of Bruce Banner, a portentious child-custody trial, a suicide, sex, and drugs. You can just imagine the horrors." (c) 1980 Gary Groth.]
"Machine Man 15-17" (pages 53-4) by Dale Luciano
"Bald Ego Cartoon Stories 1" (page 54) by Kim Thompson [Note to Frank Santoro: This comic sounds tailor-made for one of your comic boxes, an Earl Geier classic.]
"Abbott and Costello Meet the Bride of Hembeck" (page 54) by Kim Thompson
"The New Teen Titans 1" (page 54) by David Stallman



TED WHITE "Photo by Bill Burns, Corflu, Austin, Texas, 2007" (c)2007 Bill Burns, other 2004 photos of Mr. White by Bill Burns et al can be found here.

INTERVIEW:
"A Life on the Fringe of Comics: An Interview With Ted White" conducted by Gary Groth (with Kim Thompson, Gary Kwapisz, and Dan Steffan) on 8/15/80. Transcribed by Mr. Thompson and edited by Mr. Groth; illustrations: Ricky Livingston (2), Harry Bell, Ingrid Neilson, Grant Canfield, Gilbert Hernandez [Dennis the Menace's Father as Elvis Costello?], and Gary Kwapisz
[The safe pick for this period of the The Journal would have been issue 53 with the Harlan Ellison interview, but (no offense to the talented Mr. Ellison, of course) that interview is unreadable and a bit dated in my opinion. This interview with Ted White may have escaped notice over the years, as it to is dated in some subjects, however Mr. White's opinions are entertaining and well-stated throughout. Personally, I've always thought this was a high point of early Journal's, with Mr. White talking at length about a number of non-comics subjects, or at least non-Marvel and DC subjects: his dismissal as Editor of HEAVY METAL, background information on working at HEAVY METAL in 1980, on working with Julie Simmons and John Workman at HM, three amazing pages talking about drugs/perceptions of drugs/drug culture (a short excerpt: "I believe that these are drugs we need to counteract the dehumanizing influences of a mechanistic, highly populated society, and for that reason I am in favor of both marijuana and the psychedelics. I am not in favor of alchohol, downers, speed -- cocaine I'll leave somewhere in limbo. Certain people can take it past the point where it does them any good, but for some people it seems to be good. Again, it also depends on your metabolism. Some people get a different thing from the same drug than I would." page 65 (c)1980 Ted White.), debating the potential of the comics medium, Art Spiegelman, Jack Kirby, Archie Goodwin, editing in general, critiques his October 1980 issue of HEAVY METAL in regards to storytelling content, Neal Adams, "conventional comics," Don Heck, Gene Colan, Dick Ayers, Stan Lee, EC Comics, visit to EC offices in 1955 with Lary Stark and Fred Von Bernewitz, writing in comics, the stages of Mr. White's comics fandom, a great couple paragraphs on die-hard older comics fans, comics continuity, fandom days (with Larry Stark, Fred Von Bernewitz, Bhob Stewart, John Benson, Bill Spicer), Phil Seuling, "nurds" and "pear-shaped people" (yes he's talking about you, twinkie breath!), Don McGregor and DETECTIVES, INC., the function of art, Michael Fleisher and CHASING HAIRY, and finally gives his opinion on THE COMICS JOURNAL itself.]
[Mr. White has had a long, varied career as fanzine contributor/editor, science-fiction author, editor of AMAZING and FANTASTIC sci-fi magazines, disc jockey "Dr. Progresso," editor of HEAVY METAL, and musician among many other outlets. An index of his comics work can be found here courtesy of GCD.]
[Also, Mr. White was a writer for The Journal during two different periods, writing reviews in 76-78 81 83 (source) and his series "The History of Comics Fandom" in 231 234 235 (from my spotty collection). BONUS: here are some online science-fiction fanzine reviews by Mr. White that were contemporary with his second run on The Journal.]

PANEL PROGRESSIONS:
"The Gods and Heroes of Jack Kirby" (pages 84-89 91-93) by Greg Potter [The third in Mr. Potter's series of comics analysis this time examining Jack Kirby's "The Pact" from NEW GODS 7.]
SUSPENDED ANIMATION:
"Double Your Pleasure! Double Your Fun! Two New Animation Books Reviewed" (pages 94-5) by Jim Korkis [One of the finest writers on animation reviews two classic books on animation: OF MICE AND MAGIC by Leonard Maltin (w/Jerry Beck) and THE AMERICAN ANIMATED CARTOON: A CRITICAL ANTHOLOGY by Danny and Gerald Peary. links to amazon.com and abebooks.com sales pages, respectively]
"In Memoriam: Tex Avery [February 28, 1908-August 26, 1980]" (page 95) by Jim Korkis [Mr. Korkis delivers a four-paragraph obituary covering the legendary animator's entire career.]
[Jim Korkis was the animation writer at The Journal for many years, his work can be found in The Journal 39, 41-45 48 56 59 60 62-64 66-69 71. source. Here is a wonderful recent podcast featuring Mr. Korkis speaking on Disney history, and recently he has been mentioned on Didier Ghez's Disney website.]
[above recent photo of Jim Korkis via.]

CINEMA JOURNAL:

"Kubrick's 'The Shining': An Ambitious, Failed Masterpiece" (pages 97-100) by Dale Luciano [View clips on youtube.com here and here. Before Dale Luciano moved on to reviewing alternative comics and mini-comics in the eighties (he was the force behind "The Newave Comix Survey" in The Journal 96-99 101 102), he wrote many detailed insightful movie reviews. source]

UNDERGROUND COMIX:
"A Melonhead's View of History" (pages 101-103) by Bill Sherman [Mr. Sherman reviews Larry Gonick's THE CARTOON HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE Volumes 1-4, the comic book version published by Rip Off Press.]
"Capsule Reviews: FIFTIES FUNNIES and FREAK BROTHERS 6" (page 103) by Bill Sherman

COMICS CHECKLIST: OCTOBER 1980:
Comics that were scheduled to be released during October 1980, note that Marvel and DC had different release dates back then! We didn't really notice at the time as most of us still bought off the spinner rack! Just for the heck of it, here's the list of The Journal's direct market distributors back then: Sea Gate Distributors (NY); New Media/Irjax (FL); Bud Plant (CA); and, Glenwood Distributors (IL). Here is a link swarm to various GCD cover posts for your nostalgiac meandering:
MARVEL: AMAZING ADVENTURES 14 10/28; AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 212 10/14; AVENGERS 203 10/21; BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 23 10/28; CAPTAIN AMERICA 253 10/14; CONAN 118 10/21; DAREDEVIL 168 10/7; THE DEFENDERS 81 10/28; FANTASTIC FOUR 226 10/28; FANTASY MASTERPIECES 14 10/21; GHOST RIDER 52 10/14; INCREDIBLE HULK 255 10/21; IRON MAN 142 10/28; MAN-THING 7 10/21; MARVEL SPOTLIGHT 9[CAPTAIN UNIVERSE] 10/28; MARVEL SUPER-ACTION 27 10/28; MARVEL SUPER-HEROES 95 10/7; MARVEL TALES 123 10/21; MARVEL TEAM-UP 101 10/28; MARVEL TWO-IN-ONE 71 10/7; MARVEL'S GREATEST COMICS 94 10/21; MASTER OF KUNG FU 96 10/28; MICRONAUTS 25 10/14; MOON KNIGHT 3 10/14; ROM 14 10/21; SAVAGE SHE-HULK 12 10/14; SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN 50 10/28; SPIDER-WOMAN 34 10/7; STAR TREK 10 10/7; STAR WARS 43 10/28; TALES TO ASTONISH 14 10/21; THOR 303 10/14; X-MEN 141 10/21. MARVEL MAGAZINES: CRAZY 69 10/14; HULK 24 10/21; SAVAGE SWORD OF CONAN 59 10/7.
DC: ACTION COMICS 515 10/23; BATMAN 331 10/9; BRAVE AND THE BOLD 170 10/23; DC COMICS PRESENTS 29 10/9; DETECTIVE COMICS 497 10/23; FLASH 293 10/9; GHOSTS 96 10/9; G.I. COMBAT 226 10/9; GREEN LANTERN 136 10/23; HOUSE OF MYSTERY 288 10/23; JONAH HEX 44 10/9; JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA 186 10/9; LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES 271 10/23; MYSTERY IN SPACE 115 10/23; SUPERBOY 13 10/23; NEW TEEN TITANS 3 10/9; SECRETS OF SINISTER HOUSE 32 10/9; SGT. ROCK 348 10/23; SUPER FRIENDS 40 10/23; SUPERMAN 355 10/9; SUPERMAN FAMILY 206 10/9; UNEXPECTED 206 10/23; UNKNOWN SOLDIER 248 10/9; WARLORD 41 10/23; WEIRD WAR TALES 85 10/9; WONDER WOMAN 275 10/9.
Whitman: BATTLE OF THE PLANETS 9 10/28; BUCK ROGERS 9 10/28; CHIP N DALE 69 10/21; DAFFY DUCK 131 (there's something so wrong about this cover) 10/28; DAISY AND DONALD 47 10/21; DONALD DUCK 224 10/21; FLASH GORDON 31 10/28; LOONEY TUNES 35 10/28; MICKEY MOUSE 209 10/21; PINK PANTHER 77 10/21; TOM AND JERRY 382 (there is no such issue, but reversing the last two numbers brings us the first Whitman issue of this series) 10/21; TWEETY & SYLVESTER 107 (cn/a) 10/28; UNCLE SCROOGE 181 10/21; WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES 483 10/21; YOSEMITE SAM 70 10/28.
HEAVY METAL: HEAVY METAL MAGAZINE November 1980 (October).
WARREN: EERIE 117 10/7; 1994 16 10/14; ROOK 5 10/21.
COMELY COMICS: CAPTAIN CANUCK 12 (October).
AARDVARK-VANAHEIM: CEREBUS THE AARDVARK 21 (October).
FANTACO: MUGSHOTS (October); SMILIN' ED COMICS 2 (October).

EDITORIAL CARTOON:
"Untitled" (inside back cover) by "Red Meat" [cartoon of Jim Shooter, Stan Lee, and Jim Galton stabbing Roy Thomas in the back. I think the pseudonymous artist was Gary Kwapisz, but I'm not certain.]

BACK COVER:
"Machine Man vs. Doctor Octopus" painted by Dennis Fujitake

THE COMICS JOURNAL (c) 2010 Fantagraphics Books, Inc. Unauthorized, but fairly used throughout. Anyone owning copyright to illustrations, and wishing them removed please send a complaint through the comments -- they will be immediately taken down.

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