The Silver Age of Comic Book Art manifests the magic and majesty of the Marvel and DC classics from 1956-1970
The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is a sparkly remastered new version of the long-out-of-print coffee table book that first came out ahead of its time in 2003, before all the beautiful Chip Kidd-designed superhero books, before many do-gooders depicted in these pages – Captain America, The Flash, Thor, Green Lantern, The Avengers, Dr. Strange, Green Arrow, Nick Fury and more – made it to the big & little screens. IMHO, more so than any other book on the subject, and more even than the bombastic blockbusters, this book manifests the magic and majesty of the Marvel and DC classic comics and characters from The Silver Age (1956-1970) and does so by focusing due attention on eight artists responsible for their creation: Carmine Infantino, Steve Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane, Joe Kubert, Gene Colan, Jim Steranko, and Neal Adams.
By way of uberdynamic spreads chockfulla judiciously juxtoposed images, ouvre-compressing cosmic collages, and the hubris-if-it-wasn’t-done-right method of replacing words in original comic balloons with choice quotes from the artists themselves, Schumer achieves the fantastic feat of making the reader experience the awe a kid in 1964 must have felt upon first gazing upon an earth-shattering Jack Kirby spread in Fantastic Four, or having Neal Adams’ art in Green Lantern / Green Arrow punch you in the face with its wrenchingly emotional realism, or being thrown off-kilter by the angular other-dimensionality of Steve Ditko’s Dr. Strange.
Appropriately, two of comics’ most influential writers wax testimoniacal, in their signature styles, about this sublime celebration of super artists:
Alan Moore: “A lovingly crafted tribute to the superhero comic of the 1960s, The Silver Age of Comic Book Art recaptures the four-color visionary surge of the era, its jet-age psychedelic rush of imagination and the titanic, luminous figures, both real and imaginary, that glittered in its firmament. For a brief moment in the late 20th century, it seemed as if the spirit of the age wore a vivid leotard, a chest emblem, and traveled in a strobing blur of speed lines. For anyone with any interest in or affection for that moment, this beautiful volume is indispensible.”
Stan Lee: “Not only is Arlen Schumer’s The Silver Age of Comic Book Art a spellbinding book about a magnificent art form, but it’s one of the publishing world’s great rarities – a book about art which is itself as much a resplendent work of art as the subject it so beautifully depicts. Every page of The Silver Age of Comic Book Art is a visual feast for the eyes. In honoring those artists whom the author considers the best of the best, Schumer, by virtue of his stunning layouts, incredible use of color and brilliant selection of awesome artwork, has proven himself one of the most exciting designers of all.”
The book ends with a bonus section that covers five more artists in hyperspeed, and leaves you rarin’ to dig back into the original comics, with a more appreciative set of peepers. – Jeff Newelt
In my spare time, when I'm not protecting wildlife with the National Wildlife Federation or guest-blogging for Animal Planet and here at Boing Boing, I'm also the co-host of a podcast called The Elfquest Show, about one of America's longest-running fantasy series, with my fellow uber-geek Ryan Browne.
I was lucky enough to sit down with series' creators Wendy and Richard Pini to record this interview for the show. We talked about the events of the latest Elfquest story arc called The Final Quest, the difference in fan reactions today versus 36 years ago when the series premiered, and a lot of other juicy tidbits.If you're an existing Elfquest fan, or are just curious about the series, give it a listen.
Boing Boing will remember that The Final Quest story arc of this epic, long-running fantasy series launched right here a couple of years ago. The series is now several issues in and is published both in print and digitally by Dark Horse Comics.
Heritage Auctions created this video to teach you how to tell the difference of an original Action Comics #1 from a Famous First Edition reprint.
I have the $5 one!
Why would anyone be willing to pay $250,000 for Todd McFarlane's original cover art for Spider-Man #300? Because only it's the only cover appearance of the web-slinger sporting the black Venom symbiote suit, silly!
Todd McFarlane’s Amazing Spider-Man #300 Original Cover Art (Marvel, 1988), one of the most important and memorable comic images of the 1980s, is expected to bring $250,000+ when it crosses the auction block on Friday, Nov. 21, in Heritage’s Comic and Comic Art auction.
“No artist of the Modern Age has had a bigger impact on Spider-Man than Todd McFarlane,” said Todd Hignite, Vice President at Heritage Auctions. “He defined the character for an entire generation. We've sold some of his great Spidey covers in the last several years – including one that is still tied for the record of most expensive piece of American comic art of all time – but none more iconic than this cover, an absolute classic.”
The piece features Spider-Man in one of the very last times he would ever wear the black costume, as it turned out to be an evil alien symbiote, which would go on to create many different kinds of havoc for Spider-Man over the years.
This is the art that graced the cover of the 25th anniversary issue of Spider-Man that marked the first full appearance of Venom, a combination of Eddy Brock and the black costume symbiote.
“Covers just don't get any more memorable,” said Hignite. “Reproduced and paid tribute to endlessly, this one is burned into the collective imagination of all comic fans from that period and it’s one of the most impressive covers to come to market from any period in recent memory.”
Megahex, by Simon Hanselmann, is a collection of his Megg and Mogg strips, first featured on his Girl Mountain Tumblr. The comic is an existential stoner tale that is part Furry Freak Brothers, part Beavis and Butthead, and part Jean Paul Sartre (with some Jackass thrown in for good measure).
The comic concerns Megg, a green-skinned witch, her familiar/friend, the cigarette and weed puffing black cat, Mogg, and a whack-a-doodle supporting cast: Owl (an anthropomorphized owl), Mike (a warlock), Robot (guess), Booger (a female Boogeyman), and Werewolf Jones (who likes to cheese-grate his scrotum). This bizarre group of friends do little more than sit around, bong-ripping themselves into oblivion, while playing cruel pranks on each other and pontificating on the state of their miserable lives. The witch, warlock, and other horror movie “dress,” at first seems superfluous (the series takes its name and affect from the 70s Meg and Mog comics, about a witch and her cat). But after awhile, it’s obvious that the monstrous nature of the characterization is an outward expression of crippling alienation and how they truly feel about themselves. They are not monsters, they just feel that way.
It would be easy to dismiss Megahex as another stoner comic. But there’s so much lurking beneath the seemingly superficial surfaces – questions about friendship, loyalty, love, drug addiction, sexual identity, and hopelessness. There are plenty of hysterical Darwin Award-worthy situations in Megahex, but that’s not likely to be your takeaway. And what you’ll leave with is far scarier than any spook house frights; the fear of looking deeply at yourself in the mirror and finding a monster (or nothing) in your place.
Note: I love that more publishers are starting to do book tour videos, where an unseen hand pages through the book. You can see one such video for Megahex here.
Megahex by Simon Hanselmann
It’s impossible to review the Dark Horse Comics collections of Creepy and Eerie without a few fond recollections. In the ’60s and ’70s, my father owned a men’s tailored clothing shop on Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was a fine place to hang around as a kid. My dad knew all the other business people in the area and I would spend part of the day visiting nearby stores. It was in Mr. Big’s toy store where I first discovered Aurora models. Their “snap-tite” collection was perfect for the budding model builder, but it was the types of sets that really set my imagination on fire — dinosaurs, Universal Film monsters, and most importantly, the bizarre and sadistic sets that were part of their Monster Scenes line. There was Dr. Deadly and his lab, The Pendulum, and The Hanging Cage. Then there was Vampirella, a fairly X-rated kit, that was really special, because she had her own magazine, Vampirella, which was part of the Warren publications that also included Creepy and Eerie. These magazines became the foundation of my childhood love of fantasy and horror, but somewhere along the way my collection was lost. Rediscovering these magazines in the Dark Horse collections reminds me not only of the ghastly fun these stories were, but just how weird the 1970s really were.
Now up to volume 19 for Creepy (collecting up to issue #93) and volume 16 for Eerie (collecting up to issue #80), Dark Horse has done an outstanding job with these collections, capturing all that was vibrant and exciting of these magazines. Each volume contains five issues and includes reprints of the letter pages and some of the advertisements, which, to be honest, was a huge part of what made them so fun. At first dedicated to mostly horror, later issues showcased fantasy and science fiction. Eerie also offered serialized stories like the “The Mummy Walks” by Jaime Brocal and Steve Skeates, and in later issues “The Rook” by Bill DuBay.
Avoiding the heavy hand of the Comics Code, Creepy and Eerie enjoyed the freedom and there is fun “wink-wink” sensibility with all the nudity, gore, and occult scares. But these stories were not just meant to shock. Some of the stories are dated and their twisted versions of O Henry-like endings don’t chill like they used to, but their cleverness is never lost. It’s the artwork, however, that makes these volumes worth owning, both for the wonderful cover art by people like Frank Frazetta, and for the interiors, which feature some of the best in the day, including Berni Wrightson and Richard Corben. Unlike some the unwieldy comic omnibus editions, the Dark Horse collections are read comfortably, but contain enough great content to keep you poring over them wide-eyed, much like I did when I was kid.
Creepy Archives Volume 19
Dark Horse Books
Introduction by Jack Butterworth
2014, 280 pages, 8.7 x 11.1 x 0.9 inches
$35 Buy a copy on Amazon
Eerie Volume 16
Dark Horse Books
Foreword by Peter Bagge
2014, 288 pages, 8.7 x 11.1 x 0.9 inches
$35 Buy a copy on Amazon
Tarzan and the Comics of Idaho comic book was produced to benefit the Friends of the Boise Public Library. It features a Tarzan story written by Dennis Eichhorn, author of the Real Stuff comic book from the 1990s that we've been serializing on Boing Boing.
If you would like to order a copy of Tarzan and Comics of Idaho #1 for your very own personal collection, please send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Each copy is $3 plus shipping and handling.
Drew Friedman is the great caricaturist of our age. His series of portrait books, Old Jewish Comedians, More Old Jewish Comedians, and Even More Old Jewish Comedians brought him well-deserved acclaim when they came out a few years ago. His latest book of meticulous watercolor portraits is called Heroes Of The Comics, and it includes short biographies of dozens of famous and not-famous-but-important cartoonists, editors, writers and publishers from the golden age of comics. I had no idea what many of the comic book artists I've admired for decades looked like, and it was a treat to finally see the faces of Steve Ditko (Spiderman), Dave Berg and Jack Davis (Mad), and John Stanley (Little Lulu), rendered in Friedman's detailed style, replete with liver spots, wrinkles, and rumpled clothes.
Friedman even included one villain amongst the heroes: Frederic Wertham, the psychiatrist who used flawed data to write Seduction of the Innocent, the infamous 1954 anti-comics scaremongering book that led to the end of the vibrant comic book industry and the careers of many of the heroes in the pages of Friedman's book.
Heroes Of The Comics, by Drew Friedman
This recent Milo Manara cover painting for a variant issue of Spider-Woman #1 has generated a lot of comments on comic book enthusiast fora.
Poor J. Scott Campbell didn't get nearly the same amount of attention for his 1999 cover of Spiderman in a similar pose:
(Via Heidi MacDonald)
A few years ago my then 8-year-old daughter, Jane, started reading collections of old Nancy comic strips. I’d never paid attention to the strip and assumed it wouldn’t appeal to anyone over ten. But then I found Jane and her dad laughing out loud while reading Nancy in bed. “What’s so funny?” I asked. “Nancy logic!” they answered.
They pointed out Nancy logic to me: Nancy tries on a pair of thick-lensed glasses and shouts “Oh boy!” when she receives an ice-cream cone that’s almost as big as she is. Nancy’s aim is off to the right while shooting arrows so she paints an oblong target with the bull’s eye placed on the far right side. Nancy thinks leaving her coat on a chair brings her good luck, so when her aunt points at the chair and tells her to hang up the coat, Nancy hooks the chair on the coatrack.
Created by Ernie Bushmiller in the 1930s (and still running today by Guy Gilchrist), Nancy is about the mischief, charm, and naiveté of a young girl named Nancy, whose best friend, Sluggo, is a kind-hearted urchin from the wrong side of the tracks. Drawn in a simple, bold, and eye-catching style, Nancy is clever, hilarious, and a bit surreal. This volume offers over one-thousand strips that ran between 1946-1948, and although its title, Nancy Likes Christmas, suggests a holiday theme, only a handful of the strips revolves around Christmas. The setting is post World War II, but the gags, about the wishful and sometimes absurd logic that kids so often use, are timeless.
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The inimitable cartoonist and toy designer, Jim Woodring, is best known for his wordless comic books about Frank, a funny animal who lives in the Unifactor, an imaginary world filled with Hindu symbolism and nightmarish creatures that are beyond good and evil.
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