Sunday, August 15, 2010

Top 10 Issues of The Comics Journal: #71 part one

This is the third installment of our ongoing celebration of the magazine version of THE COMICS JOURNAL that ran from 37 to 300, and is due to return for it's now annual (or so) incarnation. This is one of my all-time favorite issues mostly for the classic Peter Poplaski cover, but also for the fact that this is during the run where they first turned the magazine over to someone other than the original triumvirate (Gary Groth, Mike Catron, and Kim Thompson). Dwight Decker was a writer for The Journal beginning way back in the tabloid-version days, a fanzine publisher and writer long before that even, and had been promoted to Co-Assistant Editor and C0-Newswatch Editor (with Kim Thompson) in issue 68. I don't have a copy of The Journal 69, but by the next issue (#70) Mr. Decker had been promoted to Managing Editor where he served for a few issues. The Journal 74 and 75 saw Mr. Decker's job re-invented as Assistant Editor and Co-Newswatch Editor (again, with Kim Thompson). While I don't have copies of issues 76 and 77, The Journal 78 finds a Robert J. Sodaro listed as Assistant Editor. Though brief, Mr. Decker's tenure saw some farsighted editorials and a good mix of mainstream, classic comic strips, and the emerging alternative comics scene (including the birth of Fantagraphics Books in a press release written by Mr. Decker in The Journal 70). Even all these years later Mr. Decker is still active in comics fandom, see his letter in Rob Imes's DITKOMANIA 69 (October 2008).

THE COMICS JOURNAL 71 (March 1982) buy here
Fantagraphics, Inc., Stamford, CT
GARY GROTH Executive Editor/Art Director

DWIGHT R. DECKER Managing Editor

PEPPY WHITE Assistant Art Director

KIM THOMPSON Newswatch Editor/Production Assistant

DALE LUCIANO Associate Editor

J. MICHAEL CATRON Circulation Director/Advertising


Peter Poplaski created this fondly remembered (by me, at least) "battle of the century" between the Segar-era Popeye and the equally Segar-esque no-neck big belly Hulk of Marvel Comics fame! Mr. Poplaski is probably best remembered as the long-time art director for so many Kitchen Sink Press comix and books and a contributor to the majority of that company's publications from the 70s through the 90s. Check here for a good sales listing of many of the varied projects he's done for Kitchen Sink over the years, and detailed bibliographies at GCD under Pete and Peter, and a rare interview with the artist by Bob Andelman.

"The French Zorro starring Peter Poplaski" via Arktown Productions

*"DC Hires Two More Editors" (page 6) by Kim Thompson [Marv Wolfman and Ernie Colon were to co-edit GREEN LANTERN, THE NIGHT FORCE, WONDER WOMAN, and WORLD'S FINEST with four more titles to be named later. Those titles were ARION, BLACKHAWK, THE FLASH. NEW TALENT SHOWCASE, and the MEDUSA CHAIN graphic novel, with Mr. Colon working on and off with Mr. Wolfman from October 1982-April 1985. source]
*"Promotions and Hirings at DC Comics" (page 7) by Dwight Decker [Paul Levitz promoted to Vice President of Operations, Michael Flynn as Promotion Manager, and Declan Mulcahy as Manager/Administration.]
*"DC's Schedule: New Books and Cancellations" (page 7) by Dwight Decker and Kim Thompson [NIGHT FORCE, LEGION OF SUPERHEROES ANNUAL 1, AMETHYST, SGT. ROCK ANNUAL 6, DC COMICS PRESENTS ANNUAL 1, WORLD'S FINEST 283, SUPERMAN FAMILY 222, PANDORA PANN (unpublished), WARLORD ANNUAL 1, BATMAN ANNUAL 8 (the Von Eeden classic), BLACKHAWK, and UNKNOWN SOLDIER 268.]
*"Marvel's Titan Series Nearing Completion" (page 9) by Kim Thompson ["After several months in limbo, the Marvel Titan series announced last Summer is finally making some headway, and the first issue is expected to go on sale this Summer.
"Science in Comics: As conceived by Michael Hollingshead, a freelance
scientific writer whose work has appeared in Omni, the Titan Science Series is
intended as a series of comic books explaining scientific fact in comic book
"Origin Issue: The first issue of the series, which is planned to be
published in the regular 32-page format, is being prepared for this summer.
Written by Jim Shooter and Steve Bissette, it will be the ultimate origin story
in comics: the birth of life and man on Earth.
"Bissette will also be drawing the second issue. After that, Shooter said,
the list of creators would read 'like a Who's Who of Marvel.'" page 9 (c) 1982
Kim Thompson]
*"Marvel Miscellania: Merchandising and More" (page 9) by Dwight Decker and Kim Thompson ["Marvel Comics announced in early 1982 that it had been named licensing agent for merchandise associated with Hasbro's GI JOE doll, the ARCHIE COMICS characters [!], and the characters featured on the children's TV show THE GREAT SPACE COASTER." (page 9); Carol Kalish named Assistant Direct Sales Manager for Marvel; and, Mark Gruenwald promoted to Editor.]
*"Eclipse to Publish Three Swamp Thing Tie-Ins" (page 10) by Dwight Decker [Eclipse Enterprises publishing news: THE MAKING OF THE SWAMP THING MOVIE MAGAZINE, SWAMP THING PORTFOLIO, SWAMP THING SCREENPLAY BOOK, SABRE, SCORPIO ROSE, DESTROYER DUCK.] [1982 Swamp Thing movie trailer]
*"New Media Publications Relocates to Florida" (page 10-11) by Kim Thompson
*"Undergrounds: GEN stops, OMAHA goes" (page 11) by Kim Thompson [GEN OF HIROSHIMA and I SAW IT; BIZARRE SEX 9(Omaha the Cat Dancer) and DOPE COMIX banned in U.K. and Australia, respectively; BIZARRE SEX 10 upcoming; and, THE LOWBROW ART OF ROBERT WILLIAMS published by Rip Off Press.]
*"Archie Comics Cuts Back, Revamps Line" (page 13) by Dwight Decker [also information on Bob Bolling drawing SABRINA at that time]
*OBITUARY: Harry 'A' Chesler (c.1898-December 28, 1981) (page 13) by Dwight Decker and Kim Thompson
*"Pinis Prepare ELFQUEST Companion Magazine" (page 14) by Dwight Decker [YEARNINGS 1 co-edited by Richard Pini and Jane Fancher]
*"New Magazine to Feature Comics Section" (page 14-15) by Kim Thompson [THE AMERICAN BYSTANDER with contributions from David Boswell, Mary K. Brown, Charles Burns, Josh and Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Jeff Jones, Patrick MacDonald, Mimi Pond, and Bob Schwartz. Obscure mentions of this short-lived effort from NATIONAL LAMPOON founding editor Brian McConnachie here here and here.]
*"Cartoonists Sought for Payment of Royalties" (page 15) by Dwight Decker
*"Strip News: Two Veteran Cartoonists Dead" (page 15) by Dwight Decker and Kim Thompson
OBITUARY: Wally Bishop (1905-January 15, 1982) creator of "Muggs and Skeeter" comic strip
OBITUARY: Harry Hanan (1916-January 19, 1982) creator of "Louie" pantomine comic strip *"News From Hither and Yon" (page 16) by Dwight Decker and Kim Thompson (no credits on this one) [Pacific Comics: ROG 2000; Look Mom Comics: PSYCHO COMICS 2; Western Publishing (Whitman): ASTRAL FRONTIERS (unpublished until Robin Snyder's REVOLVER series) and BUCK ROGERS by Nicola Cuti/Al McWilliams; John C. Productions (JCP): JCP FEATURE 1, BASICALLY STRANGE 1, HALL OF FAME CLASSICS 1, THUNDER AGENTS 1, SPACE GIANTS 1; Russ Cochran: VAULT OF HORROR Complete EC Library set; Capital Comics: NEXUS; Sal Quartaccio: Portfolio news; Warren: ROOK cancelled; FantaCo: GATES OF EDEN 2; Dargaud: LUCKY LUKE, WALTER MELON, VALERIAN, VAGABOND IN LIMBO, ASTERIX IN BELGIUM. Phil Yeh's THE MAGIC GUMBALL MACHINE and superhero title JUSTICE MACHINE 3 are pictured but not mentioned in the article.]

*Ingrid Neilson: illustration page 19 GCD
*Gilbert Hernandez: illustration page 20 Fantagraphics Who's Who
*Scott Pellegrini: illustration page 21 GCD
*Jaime Hernandez: illustration page 22 Fantagraphics Who's Who [dated 1981 this is a pre-Fantagraphics LOVE AND ROCKETS 1 appearance of Maggie. Curiously, this drawing brings to mind Jaime's later clear-line style, rather than the scratchy early L&R stories. Yes, only at this blog would we droolingly overanalyze a thirty year old spot illustration!]
*Dennis Fujitake: illustration page 24 Who's Who
*Mario Macari: illustration page 25 [The Spirit one two three]
*Mitch O'Connell: illustration page 26 [dated "79"] [Ginger Fox GCD]
*Brian Pearce: illustration page 27 Who's Who [this isn't art related, but here's an argument between Mr. Pearce and Todd Klein over lettering the letter "I." Please step away from the fonts.]
*ALAN BRENNERT (page 19-20) imdb GCD [this is one of my favorite "Blood & Thunder" letters, there is much information on writing for TV and comics both of which Mr. Brennert does/did quite well. A very gentlemanly exchange between Mr. Brennert and Mr. O'Neil all in all.]
*DENNY O'NEIL replies to Mr. Brennert (page 20)
*J.J. PIERCE (pages 21-22)
*CARTER SCHOLZ replies to Mr. Pierce (page 22)
*STEVE STILES (pages 22 24)
*MATT DENN (page 24) [Reading his biography at the link, it seems a real possiblity that the Lt. Governor of Delaware was a big AMAZING SPIDER-MAN fan at the age of 16 and wrote a rather stirring argument against the stereotypical portrayal of an overweight character in issue 226 of that comic. I don't make this stuff up, folks!]
*BHOB STEWART (pages 24-25) [Mr. Stewart letter replying to Jan Strnad, and on the Nostalgia Press EC Library Vol. II that was never published.]
*PAUL R. WILSON (page 25)
*THE EDITORS reply to Mr. Wilson (page 25)
*DR. PHILLIP S. KOTT (pages 25-26)
*KIM THOMPSON replies to Dr. Kott (page 26) [Mr. Thompson is put in the unenviable task of defending his not including Jack Kirby as a "comics great" alongside Harvey Kurtzman, Will Eisner, and Carl Barks, and does quite well in the end.]
*DWIGHT R. DECKER (pages 26-27 29)
*GEORGE EVANS (pages 29-30) [Jim Keefe has a lot of online material on this famous cartoonist here. This letter is a first hand account of George Evans's working relationship with Harvey Kurtzman at EC Comics, I guess it's hilarious reading if you are neither one as they certainly grated sensibilities as far as collaborating on those EC war stories, it seems.] GCD Who's Who
THE COMICS JOURNAL (c)2010 Fantagraphics Books, Inc. This list is unauthorized, but undertaken with respect to the past staff of this great magazine .

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