That time Charlton Comics published a trans sci-fi story in 1953

Back in September, a rare print edition of Space Adventures #7—originally published by the new-defunct Charlton Comics in 1953—sold for $1,800.

The comic book speculator market isn't normally the kind of cash cow that the 90s thought it was going to be. Unless you've got one of those very rare early superhero origin comics—or you happen to sell something random like Avengers #257 at the exact right time for a convenient movie tie-in—you're typically lucky to make even a dollar on an old comic.

Space Adventures #7 has nothing to do with superheroes, or non-superhero movie adaptations. But it's still coveted, probably because it contains a pre-Comics Code story called "Transformation" that was illustrated by Dick Giordano, who went on to become the Executive Editor at DC Comics, and written by a curiously uncredited author.

What's more interesting about the comic, however, is that it deals unexpectedly with transgender issues.

Here's a basic synopsis of the 8-page story from Comic Book Plus:

Anticipating nuclear war that would leave Earth barren of life, Lars Kranston convinces his colleagues to go to Mars. His paramour Betty Stone insists that she go as well. The ship crashes on Mars. Everyone but Lars and Betty are killed, but Lars thinks she died too. Betty wakes up suffering total amnesia. Lars decides to use the supplies that survived the wreck. He manages a complete sex change. The tumultuous situation on Earth dies down. The predicted war never occurs. Betty remembers the journey.

Read the rest

Captain America sworn in as Bay Area councilman

Last night, Lan Diep held Captain America's shield during his swearing in as a San Jose, California city councilman. From NBC Bay Area:

Diep, a Republican legal aid attorney, received cheers after he said "I do solemnly swear" when the clerk asked if he would defend his oath of office. His final vote of his first meeting? Joining the council in unanimously banning the communist Vietnamese flag from flying in San Jose.

In an interview after the meeting, the proud comic book geek and Houston-born son of Vietnamese refugees said that Captain America stands for the "kinds of things I strive for: equal justice, fair play and democracy."

Read the rest

Archie vs Sharknado worth a giggle

The kids of Riverdale have to take on a Sharknado: a storm that unites Betty and Veronica like never before and leaves Moose realizing that Reggie isn't that bad of guy.

The comic's special effects are more convincing than the movie's, I'll give it that.

Archie vs. Sharknado [Archie Comics] Read the rest

Groo: Friends and Foes #4

I gobble down each issue of Groo: Friends and Foes faster than our bumbling hero slurps down cheese dip. In issue 4 (out now from Dark Horse), Groo and Rufferto stumble into his old "friend," Arcadio the Hero, who is working on training dragons to help him look more heroic. Once Groo gets involved, the village doesn't stand a chance.

Mark Evanier's writing is seamless and always leaves me giggling. Sergio Aragones' art blows me away. Read it again and again. Every time, you'll see something you missed. Be sure to check the back cover, an entire page devoted to the most devoted dog there is. Rufferto, of course, is the only real hero.

A preview of Groo #4 is posted at CBR. Read the rest

Anthology of forgotten Carl Barks' Barney Bear comic books

My friend Craig Yoe (a designer and comic book historian whom I interviewed on Gweek a while back) has has edited over 30 books about comic books and illustration, including Krazy Kat & the Art of George Herriman, Amazing 3-D Comics, Archie: A Celebration Of America's Favorite Teenagers, The Golden Collection Of Klassic Krazy Kool Kids Komics, Dan DeCarlo's Jetta, The Art Of Ditko, Boody: The Bizarre Comics Of Boody Rogers, And Secret Identity: The Fetish Art Of Superman's Co-Creator Joe Shuster.

Craig's latest book is a 220-page deluxe hardcover anthology of Carl Barks' Barney Bear comics, which Barks drew before working on the Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics he became rightfully famous for. Barks is considered by many people (including me) to be one of the top 10 comic book artists of all time. It's a lot of fun to read these Barney Bear comics and see the same style of Barksian plotting, characters, humor, and drawing style that my kids and I love so much in the duck comics.

Carl barks drew Barney Bear and Benny Burro comics from 1944 to 1947. In the introduction to his anthology, Craig says:

Of his comic booking in general, Barks stated, “I worked hard at trying to make something as good as I could make it. When I took the finished art into the office and turned it over to the editor, I was satisfied that I had done it the very best I could.

Read the rest

My favorite images from Monster Brains

I've spent an inordinate amount of time over at Monster Brains, a blog filled with thousands of scans of comic books, movie posters, science fiction paperbacks, model kit boxes, and other media starring monsters. Here are a few noteworthy ones.

A rather unusual weapon to have on the cover of a kids' comic book from the 1960s. Read the rest

Adrian Tomine's Optic Nerve #12: exclusive preview

I've been waiting a long time for issue #12 of Adrian Tomine's comic book, Optic Nerve. It'll be available on Wednesday.

Find a local comic shop that sells it. Order it directly from the publisher.

In the new, long-awaited Optic Nerve #12, award-winning Shortcomings cartoonist Adrian Tomine returns to the multiple short story format familiar from early issues of the iconic series. These full-color stories showcase Tomine’s trademark humor and observational skill, making Optic Nerve #12 a great entry point for new readers. “A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture” deftly manipulates traditional comics idioms to tell a story of horticulture, patents, and misunderstood art forms, while "Amber Sweet" is a disconcertingly modern tale about a case of mistaken identity. Full color, 40 pages

Meet Adrian at these upcoming events:

BROOKLYN Sunday, Sept 18th Special Guest at the Brooklyn Book Fest, Signing at D+Q Booth

BROOKLYN Thursday Sept 22nd Official NYC Launch at Desert Island!

SAN FRAN Saturday Oct 1 & Sunday the 2nd At Miami Book Fair" At the MBF with Daniel Clowes & Seth!

BROOKLYN Saturday December 3rd Brooklyn Comics & Graphics Festival The best comics festival in NYC! Read the rest