Sunday, July 23, 2017

0039: Lancer Corporeal Part 4

The last of the six Lancer Books mass market paperbacks that licensed Marvel stories was 1967's "Here Comes... Daredevil". The physical specs are identical to "The Fantastic Four Returns", profiled in the previous post. It has 160 pages for 50¢, and reprints stories in black and white by breaking up panels and rearranging them sideways on the pages, occasionally omitting some.

The cover was made using a detail from the splash page of DAREDEVIL #15 (04/66). The Spider-man figure in the upper right corner is from the last panel of the second story in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #2 (05/63).

The panel used on the first page (below) was taken from DD#15, p.12 panel 5, but the image on the second page has me stumped. I've checked every page of the first four volumes of the Marvel Masterworks for Daredevil (which actually go into 1968). I've checked his guest appearances in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, FANTASTIC FOUR and a few others. It doesn't match the T-shirt/sweatshirt design I remember from that period. Even Google Image search failed. Maybe it will come to me in a dream. Or, with luck, the comments section.
[L3] has typeset credits, which differs from the title pages of the other volumes. The indicia on [L4] is in the same manner, though.

The first reprinted story is a two-parter from DAREDEVIL #16 (05/66)- 17(06/66), so [L5-6] combines the title from #17 with #16's p.3 panels 4-5.

Page L1

[L7-8] reprints #16, p.4 panels 1-4
[L9-31] reprints #16, pp.5-12 and p.13 panels 1-2
[L32-33] reprints #16, p.14 and has a LaSalle Extension University mail order insert between them in the copy I've found. Classy. If that didn't hurt their distribution to college-operated campus bookstores...
[L34] reprints #16, p.15 panels 1-2
[L35-37] reprints #16, p.16 and p.18 panel 5
[L38-42] reprints #17, pp.5-6
[L43-44] reprints #17, p.7 panels 2-5
[L45-46] reprints #17, p.8 panels 3-5
[L47-60] reprints #17, pp.10-14
[L61-62] reprints #17, p.15 panels 1-2,4-5
[L63-73] reprints #17, pp.16-19
[L74] reprints #17, p.20 panels 5-6

The second reprinted story is the origin portion of the first issue, with the original costume used only in the last panel.
[L75] reprints only the title from #1(04/64)
[L76-77] reprints #1, p.5 panels 3-6
[L78-79] reprints #1, p.6 panels 3-6
[L80-81] reprints #1, p.7, panels 1-2,5-6
[L82-83] reprints #1, p.8, panels 1-2,6-7
[L84-89] reprints #1, pp.9-10
[L90-91] reprints #1, p.11 panels 1-2,6-7
[L92-93] reprints #1, p.12 panels 1-2, 5-7
[L94-98] reprints #1, p.13 and p.14 panels 1-5
Here's the elusive image from page 2
The third reprinted story comes from DAREDEVIL #20 (09/66)- 21(10/66)

[L99-105] reprints #20, pp.1-4
[L106-109] reprints #20, pp.6-7
[L110] reprints #20, p.9 panel 1
[L111-114] reprints #20, p.10-11
[L115-116] reprints #20, p.13 plus the caption from p.12
[L117] reprints #20, p.14 panels 3-5
[L118-122] reprints #20, pp.15-17
[L123] reprints #20, p.18 panel 2[cropped]
[L124-127] reprints #20, pp.19-20
[L128-133] reprints #21, pp.2-4
[L134-136] reprints #21, p.6 and p.7 panel
[L137-139] reprints #21, p.8 and p.9 panel 2
[L140-143] reprints #21, pp.10-11
[L144-158] reprints #21, pp. 13-20
[L159] This is the same ad for Marvel titles that appears in all the paperbacks in this series
[L160] This is a plug for the first four volumes identical to the one in "The Fantastic Four Return"

Some may wonder why I would bother to note what panels are missing from the reprints. The simple answer is that sometimes what is missing is as significant as what is seen. For instance, tens of millions of Americans saw the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan show on each of three nights (two live, one pre-recorded) in February 1964. Not everyone watching was a screaming teen-age girl. Accomplished folk musician and session guitarist Jim McGuinn saw their sound as a way to reinvigorate and sustain the much larger audiences that folk had recently attracted through Peter, Paul and Mary and televised performances the previous August during the March On Washington.

In the liner notes to the 2CD set "The Preflyte Sessions" Sundazed SC11116 (Canada, 2001), I found the following: 1964, folk and rock were separate words and exclusive worlds, divided by a fence of suspicion instead of a hyphen. [Chris] Hillman recalls Troubadour hootenannies...where McGuinn jarred his peers by singing the Beatles' "I Want To Hold Your Hand" with an acoustic twelve-string guitar. "I was thinking, 'What is this guy doing?'" says Hillman, a mandolin prodigy from the San Diego area, then exclusively playing bluegrass. "But he was so committed to it that you just couldn't help but be drawn in."

It was at the Troubadour that McGuinn met two other folk musicians, Gene Clark and David Crosby, pursing the same goal from different directions. Crosby had already recorded demos with producer Jim Dickson, who was keen on recording whatever they eventually came up with. The trio recorded under the working name "The Jet Set" while making demos with Dickson who would get them a one-single deal with Elektra Records, a folk and classical label nervously considering their first rock record. The single was released under the pseudonym The Beefeaters (a condition of the deal, and clearly a reference to British Invasion bands riding the Beatles' coattails). The mixes were submitted in mid-1964 and it would eventually be released in October.

Tens of millions saw the Sullivan broadcasts but what they didn't see is that between the arrival in New York on the 7th and the live transmission on the 9th, Brian C. Hall of the Rickenbacker guitar company had arranged to meet with the Beatles and offer them their pick of a selection of the company's guitars. Because George Harrison had been sick that day, John Lennon suggested they bring him back the electric 12-string. According to Damian Fanelli of the magazine "Guitar World", it was the second 12-string Rickenbacker ever made. Generally, 12-strings are made by matching each of the six strings that would be on a conventional guitar with one an octave higher. However, in most they are strung so that when the guitar is strummed the higher string will be struck first. On Harrison's, the lower string is struck first. After a frantic two weeks in the U.S. they returned to recording almost as soon as they got back to England.The new guitar was used to record the B-side of "Can't Buy Me Love" and the bulk of the songs that would appear in the movie and album "A Hard Day's Night", which they began filming in March.

David Crosby reading AVENGERS #22 (11/65)

After the Jet Set/Beefeaters submitted their single, the film "A Hard Day's Night" was finally released in the U.S., a month after the U.K premiere. By most accounts, McGuinn and Crosby sat through the film several times taking notes. Two major points steered the course of their project. First, the Beatles made frequent use of vocal harmonies, which Crosby had a knack for arranging. Second, according to McGuinn, "we made a laundry list of the instruments we needed, copying all of the instruments the Beatles had." That included the same model electric 12-string. Adding two members (Chris Hillman and Michael Clarke) and switching out a vowel in an animal name, shortly after the Beefeaters single failed The Byrds signed to Columbia. Like the Beatles, they also saw their first charting single go to #1. But don't feel too bad about Elektra. After missing out on the revamped Byrds, they took a whole new attitude towards rock music and, in less than five years, signed The Doors, The Stooges and The MC5.

In the previous post, Marvel had further consolidated its identity by publishing its last short 'suspense' story in what had been anthologies but had since become super-hero comics. The only titles left that hadn't been renovated (aside from trade dress matters) were the 'teen humor' comics. Beginning in the first week of April, that changed as well. PATSY WALKER #115 (06/64) and MODELING WITH MILLIE #31 (06/64) converted from multiple short stories and pin-ups to 18 page lead stories with five single-page features in each issue. The next week MILLIE THE MODEL #121 (07/64) would do the same and in mid-May PATSY AND HEDY #95 (08/64) would become the last Marvel title to abandon the multi-story anthology format. The switch took half the time the westerns took. Once genuinely humor comics, these titles had been drifting more towards more of a soap opera feel for a while. With the cancellation of KATHY (to make way for DAREDEVIL in February), there really weren't any actual humor comics left at Marvel.

At the end of the first week in April, the Beatles made Billboard chart history by occupying all of the top five spots, the only act to do so as of this writing. They also had five other song held over and added two more, "You Can't Do That" (the B-side of "Can't Buy Me Love" featuring the new Rickenbacker, at 65) and "Thank You Girl" (the B-side of "Do You Want To Know A Secret", at 79).

In the second week, the Green Goblin makes his first appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #14 (07/64) where the Hulk guest stars. The X-Men guest star in FANTASTIC FOUR #28 (07/64), where the letters' page mentions plans for a MARVEL ANNUAL that summer. Capitol releases "The Beatles' Second Album", the title a deliberate Orwellian attempt to rewrite Vee Jay and its two versions of "Introducing..." out of history. Like "Meet...", the new album is a patchwork of the second UK LP and various singles, demonstrating the widening gap between the demand for more recordings and the paucity of songs not already in print. The charts had apparently reached their saturation point. Of the first seven U.S. singles only two B-sides ("I'll Get You" and "The Saints") failed to place, but the others bolstered by two Canadian A-sides made for a total of 14 concurrent charting songs. The two new entries were both from Vee Jay subsidiary Tollie: B-side "There's A Place" at 74 and imminent A-side "Love Me Do" at 81 (replacing "My Bonnie"). I say "imminent" because it appears on the charts for Apr. 11th with an official release date of Apr. 27th. I am guessing that later pressings of the Canadian Capitol version became available before the Tollie copies were manufactured. On the charts for Apr. 18th, only MGM's A-side "Why" enters, at 86, ending a three month streak of weekly entries.

Just before the Tollie "Love Me Do" is released, DC comics publishes the 80-page GIANT SUPERBOY ANNUAL #1 (Summer/1964) on Apr. 23rd. In many respects it is much like the 20 DC Annuals which preceded it. However, it is actually the start of a different kind of streak.

And for anybody who thinks that they can help find a source for that Daredevil image, here it is isolated, if that makes it any easier for you:

Thursday, July 20, 2017

0038: Lancer Corporeal Part 3

As I was organizing the scans for today's post I realized that I never credited the image for the cover scan of the Hulk paperback profiled yesterday. The art came from TALES TO ASTONISH #67 (05/65) with new background art. And for the record, the missing Thor volume (72-125) contained the Thor stories from JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #'s 97 (10/63), #104 (05/64) and #114 (03/65)-115 (04/65) plus the first Tales of Asgard back-up from #97. I would have to assume that panels from other issues were spliced into those based on what I've seen of the other books in the series.

The third and final pair of Lancer Books mass market paperbacks have only minor distinctions from the first four books. They are still B&W, still made by reprinting disjointed panels from several comics, mostly displayed sideways. They're also still 50¢, but are now only 160 pages, down from 176. The phrase "Mighty Marvel..." was added to "...Collector's Album" on the cover and spine, but otherwise they're all very similar.

The art on the cover here (left) is a detail from FANTASTIC FOUR #41 (08/65), p.1 and the art on the first interior page (below) is a detail from FF#37 (04/65), p.7 panel 3. As in the first paperback, [L2] here uses the art from the T-shirt introduced in 1965 (in an ad in #41, to be exact) facing the title page and credits on [L3]. The indicia is on [L4].

The first reprinted story is the second story from FFAnnual #2 ([9]/64), "The Final Victory of Dr. Doom!"
[L5] reprints p.5, a portion of panel 1
[L6] reprints p.7 panel 7
[L7-9] reprints p.8
[L10] reprints p.9 panel 5 and p.10 panel 1
[L11] reprints p.10, a portion of panel 4
[L12-22] reprints pp.11 through 14, panel 4
[L23-25] reprints p.15 panels 4-5,7 and p.16 panels 1-2.7-8
[L26-28] reprints p.17
[L29] reprints p.18 panels 5-7
[L30-50] reprints pp.19-25

The second story is entirely from FF#33 (12/64)
[L51-52] reprints p.1
[L53-84] reprints pp.2-7 and 9-13
[L85-87] reprints p.14 panels 1-5 and p.15 panel 6
[L88-102] reprints pp. 16-20
The third reprinted story comes from FF#35(02/65).
[L103-104] reprints p.1
[L105-108] reprints p.2 panels 1-2 and p.3 panels 2-6
[L109-114] reprints pp.4-5
[L115-116] reprints p.6 panels 1,4-5
[L117-157] reprints pp.7-20

[L158] reprints a pin-up of the Sub-Mariner from FF#33 (12/64)

[L159] uses the same ad that appeared on [L175] of the first four books

[L160] is the page on the left.

Between the Fantastic Four paperback in 1966 and this one, MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS continued to reprint FF stories chronologically and nearly consecutively, but with a bi-monthly schedule the gap between a given story's original publication and its eventual reprint was widening every year. That might be discouraging for someone coming in late, but there were a few good things about it: readers would be less concerned about missing upcoming issues if they had a reason to believe that it would be available again less than two years later. It keeps them buying the current issues. Also, between 1962 and 1965, Marvel's sales really mushroomed; as long as their committed reprint titles kept reprinting stories in order, then with every issue they would be presenting stories with larger and larger original audiences. The target audience for the reprints would gradually, incrementally change from people who missed out the first time around due to spotty distribution to people who simply started reading later.

Of course, the reprint titles didn't reproduce the letters. Initially, of the super-hero titles only FANTASTIC FOUR ran a letters' page, even stating explicitly in an early issue that FF outsold all their other titles by such a margin that they assumed that anyone buying any of their super-hero comics must have bought FF first anyway. (From #9: " [fans] seem to feel that the FF mag is sort of the headquarters, or clearing house for the others.") In 1963, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN got a letter's page and in the first week of March, AVENGERS #5(05/64) and X-MEN #5(05/64) got their first letters' pages. They'd be followed by SGT. FURY in May. Of course, the idea of measuring the popularity of an entertainment franchise by audience participation sounds a little silly when placed against the yardstick of the Beatles' first U.S. tour and TV appearances in early 1964, which is what I've been injecting into these posts. If this is your first experience with an electronic device and you've never seen the footage then trust me, teenage girls in their audience had NO problem 'participating' at their shows. And it translated to sales. That same week that AVENGERS ans X-MEN got letters, Thor's name became larger on the cover of JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #104(05/64) than the series' title, and the Beatles had their second B-side to join its A-side on the Billboard charts. "From Me To You", which didn't chart when it was released as an A-side in 1963 (although a cover did), entered at 86 as the B-side to "Please Please Me". In fact, this was only mid-way through a period of 14 consecutive weeks in which some Beatles-related single was introduced.

In the second week of March, TALES OF SUSPENSE #54 (06/64) ran its last suspense story, "Skrang Strikes Tonight!", which makes it the last such generic anthology story Marvel produces until they bring back the format with TOWER OF SHADOWS and CHAMBER OF DARKNESS in 1969, since JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ran its last one the week before. The Wasp and Watcher back-up features had not been terribly different up to that point. In fact, at first they had been made by having each character narrate an old suspense story script, but TALES TO ASTONISH #56 (06/64) in the first week of March was the last time that method was used for the Wasp; she would star in short stories in the next three issues in stead of narrating them. The Watcher had already made the same change in TS#53. Newly drawn versions of the narration style would be used for the Watcher back-ups in SILVER SURFER beginning in 1968.

This meant that all the comics that still had science fiction/fantasy titles were now super-hero series with a lead of 13-18 pages and a back-up of 5-9 pages. Thus, STRANGE TALES #121 (06/64) began the perhaps overdue practice of giving Dr. Strange a portion of the cover. He had only been mentioned in blurbs since #117 and only ever appeared before on #118. It was just in time for him to guest star in FF#27 that week.

While all that was on the stands, any kid picking them up over the next few weeks probably heard the following pouring out of the transistor radios of teenagers congregating in front of the drugstore:
Mar. 14th-- "Twist and Shout" enters the charts at 55
Mar. 16th-- Capitol releases their second Beatles single, "Can't Buy Me Love" b/w "You Can't Do That"
Mar. 21st-- "She Loves You" finally replaces "I Want To Hold Your Hand" at #1
Mar. 21st-- The Carefrees enter the chart at 73 with "We Love You Beatles"
Mar. 21st-- Copies of the Beatles' cover of "Roll Over Beethoven" imported from Canada enter the U.S. chart at 79
Mar. 21st-- The Four Preps enter the chart (for the last time after eight years of placing singes) at 87 with "A Letter To The Beatles"
Mar. 23rd-- Vee Jay Records releases "Do You Want To Know A Secret" b/w "Thank You Girl"
Mar. 23rd-- Vee Jay also releases a four-song EP with "Misery", "A Taste Of Honey", "Ask Me Why" and "Anna"
Mar. 27th-- MGM Records releases "Why" b/w "Cry For A Shadows", another Sheridan recording.
Mar. 28th-- "Can't Buy Me Love" enters the charts at 27
Mar. 28th-- Copies of "All My Loving" imported from Canada enter the U.S. chart at 71
Mar, 28th-- "Do You Want To Know A Secret" enters the chart at 78
Mar. 28th-- The first Beatles related songs to drop from the charts in 1964 are "My Bonnie" (a Sheridan recording) and tribute songs from Donna Lynn and The Swans; despite this there are still ten Beatles recordings and two other tributes simultaneously in the chart this week, largely owing to the number of labels making records available but obviously also the public demand for them.

There's one paperback left and the Beatles continue to occupy America long after they've left.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

0037: Lancer Corporeal Part 2

The second pair of Lancer Books mass market paperbacks appeared in the fall of 1966. They kept the format of the first two, 176 pages of black and white reprints for 50¢. The panels were broken up with one to four per page and mostly horizontal.

I have this one, "The Incredible Hulk".
While the Fantastic Four would get a proper cartoon produced by Hanna-Barbera and Spider-man would be produced by Grantray-Lawrence, both in 1967 for ABC-TV, the Hulk was one of several heroes arriving on TV in severely limited animation (also by Grantray-Lawrence, but with a fraction of the budget) in 1966 for syndication. Under the umbrella title "The Marvel Superheroes", it was actually five half hour shows with each episode broken into three 7 to 8 minute segments. Since each chapter had a title card, once the episodes completed their initial run the chapters could be mixed and matched in future broadcasts. Say, two Hulk chapters with a Captain America chapter between them, or one Thor, one Hulk and one Iron Man with the stories continued the next day. It sounds interesting, but the animation was done by literally making Xerox copies of published comic book art and... actually, it would be easier to demonstrate it. You know how people signify "OK" by forming a ring with their thumb and index finger? Using one eye, look through that ring at the cover on the left. Then, pick up whatever device you're using to view this blog and slightly jiggle it back and forth, saying, "Raargh, raargh!" Got it? Well, that's EXACTLY what it was like to watch the 1966 Hulk cartoon. Don't believe me? They show up on YouTube all the time. I was also able to find an example of a live host dressed in a Captain America costume introducing the show on WNAC-TV in Boston, thanks to a tip on Wikipedia.

Here's the first page, using a panel from INCREDIBLE HULK #6 (03/63), p.1.
I think the lettering is original, maybe by Joe Rosen or Artie Simek.

The second page [L2] also lifts from IH#6, p.3 panels 7-8. The third page [L3] is a title page with credits for Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby; the fourth page [L4] is indicia. The stories begin with [L5] which takes art from TALES TO ASTONISH #60 (10/64), p.1 and adds new lettering.

[L6-31] reprint the first story from IH #3 (09/62), "Banished To Outer Space" p.1 through p.9 panels 1-6 and p.11 panels 5-7. It was previously reprinted without editing in MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS #3 (06/66). In the original comic the next three pages were a recap of Hulk's origin which would eventually be reprinted several times but is omitted here.
[L32-59] reprint the third story from IH #3, "The Ringmaster" pp15-24, except for the last panel. That story had been previously reprinted in MARVEL TALES ANNUAL #2 ([9]/65).
These are followed by an intermezzo on [L60-62] created using excerpts from IH#6, p.11 panels 5,7-8 and p.12 panels 1-6 plus new lettering.

The remainder of the stories are the first four chapters of the Hulk's feature in TALES TO ASTONISH.

[L63-90] reprint TA#60 (10/64),  pp1-10 except for the last panel, and with new lettering on [L63] and [L90].
[L91-117] reprint TA#61 (11/64), pp1-9 and p.10 panels 1, 3 and 2.
[L118] new lettering only
[L119-145] reprint TA#62 (12/64), pp1-9 and p.10 panels 1-2,5.
[L146-173] reprint TA#63 (01/65), pp1-9 and p.10 panels 1-4,6 plus new lettering.
[L174] Pin-up from TA#62 (12/64)

[L175] The same ad that appeared on this page in the previous two volumes (a scan appears in the previous post).

[L176] The final page (see the scan on the left) not only plugs the other volumes but offers them by mail if they can't be found "at your local newsstand". Bookstores aren't mentioned. It should be pointed out that Lancer and Marvel both felt that it would be best to emphasize distributing the paperbacks to college campuses and that many small suburban and community colleges were serviced by bookstores run by the colleges themselves and/or by student cooperatives. That doesn't necessarily mean that they would be strictly adhering to an academic guideline when ordering stock, but it raises the possibility.

The idea that mass produced popular culture could also simultaneously be or not be art, or that the thing that would determine whether or not something was legitimate art had nothing to do with how expensive or accessible it is, were both extremely controversial propositions in the early 60's, which is why the emergence of concepts about 'pop art' from critical circles and out into conversations in the general public was considered a 'movement' at all. That's where it was moving. That conversation was going to be engaged in most frequently and passionately on college campuses in the latter half of the decade. And the students engaged in that conversation had been in high school when the Beatles hit the U.S. The week ending February 1st, 1964 gave them their first #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. On the following Monday, MGM records shipped out an album that combined four songs that the Beatles recorded as Tony Sheridan's backing band with two other Sheridan recordings and six recordings by a group called the Titans, but packaged as though it were a Beatles album. Funny story? They were in such a rush to rip off the public that they didn't realize that they already had four other Sheridan recordings that actually had the Beatles playing on them.

As the MGM LP hit the shops, The Enchantress and Executioner were making their first appearance in JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY #103 (04/64). Also out that week was DAREDEVIL #1(04/64). It would be the last time in a long, long while that Marvel debuted a character in their own title. Since the restructuring in 1957 this had only happened 7 times: Kathy, Linda Carter, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Sgt. Fury, X-Men and Daredevil. All but Kathy were within a three year period. The next three new titles would be the reprint titles I've been posting about. The western Ghost Rider (1967) was transparently a character done for Magazine Enterprises (since defunct) in the 1950's by the same artist but given a different secret identity for legal reasons. Peter the Pest stories were actually recycled Melvin the Monster stories. The Li'l Kids comics reprinted Li'l Willie, Awful Oscar, etc. from the 1950's. Conan wasn't an original Marvel character. As far as I can tell, the winner is... Archie knock-off HARVEY #1(10/70)? Looks like it. And the next candidate is Luke Cage in HERO FOR HIRE #1 (06//72), a full eight years after Daredevil.

Of course, plenty of new characters were introduced and new titles launched in that time, just not simultaneously. In fact, of all the characters granted their own features during that time it wasn't until Captain Marvel was introduced in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES #12 (12/67) that a character was even introduced in their own feature. And yet, this was not a creatively or commercially sluggish time for Marvel; they were thriving. By the end of the decade they would be on the verge of overtaking DC in sales. The idea of giving new features and new titles to characters who were introduced in existing features starring other characters was just contributing to their strengthening sense of continuity. This was being done at a time when there were no trade paperbacks in the sense we know them today. If you wanted to know where the character you've just started reading came from, you'd have to keep an eye on the reprint titles until they got around to reprinting it.

By the end of the week, the Beatles arrived in the U.S. (Feb.7) to rehearse for the Ed Sullivan Show. On Sunday the 9th they recorded an afternoon performance to be broadcast on the 23rd, but played live for the broadcast that night. They toured playing live shows all during the week and met up with Sullivan in Miami to do another live broadcast on the 16th. During that week Marvel released the conclusions of two-parters in FANTASTIC FOUR #26 (05/64) and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #12 (05/64) (which ran a fan letter from Dave Cockrum). More notably, in TALES OF SUSPENSE #53 (05/64) the watcher was given an origin an on the cover, Iron Man's name was printed larger than the actual name of the comic. This was a trend that was going to be repeated.

While the Beatles toured, the B-side of their only U.S. Capitol single entered the charts at 68 while the A-side was #1. During the next moth they would both be in the top 20 for three weeks. By the end of the week, MGM's "My Bonnie" single entered at #67.
Feb. 20th-- Vee Jay Records invents a subsidiary called Tollie, which releases the single "Twist and Shout" b/w "There's A Place"
Feb. 22th-- Donna Lynn enters the singles chart at 97 with "My Boyfriend Got A Beatle Haircut"
Feb 26th-- Vee Jay Records releases an album called "Jolly What! The Beatles And Frank Ifield On Stage", which compiled the four songs from two singles the label released in 1963 with eight songs by an unrelated artist. Despite the title, none of these recordings are live.
Feb. 29th-- The Swans enter the singles chart at 99 with "The Boy With The Beatle Hair". And really, it's already desperate enough to release a single predicated on the success of another band to the extent of putting their name in the title. Did they really have to go the extra mile and name their own band after one of the five different labels hawking the other band's records?

Monday, July 17, 2017

0036: Lancer Corporeal, Part 1

As promised (or warned?) the posts on Silver Age Marvel reprints are going to take an odd turn. Until this point I've been scanning original material that appeared in Marvel's reprint titles from 1964 and 1965, leaving off in early 1966 just as they were being converted from annual or quarterly specials to ongoing bi-monthly titles. It was also a year when Marvel began multiple licensing ventures that mined what had then become a substantive backlog of super-hero images and stories. Accompanying each post was a chapter attempting to put the development of extra-length formats (DC's 80-page Giants and Marvel's 72-page Annuals and 64-page 'King-Size') into chronological context of events in Marvel's history, from 1957 to 1963. When the history chapters reached 1964, the age of mass media pop culture explosions made the leap from Andy Warhol's philosophies to bourgeoisie suburban homes with the introduction of the Beatles. Prior to them, most teen idols were nobodies crafted into trinkets by ambitious managers who tossed them and started over when the novelty wore off. Real artists carry on or move on. Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley all went into movies while their contemporaries struggled for relevance. The Beatles were introduced to most Americans on film and almost immediately became the subject of merchandise in every conceivable form, much of it pirated. Marvel was just on the verge of consolidating a roster that would carry it through the 'pop art' age of the mid-60's. Every title introduced since FANTASTIC FOUR until the end of 1964 (except HULK) would still be published fifteen years later. After SGT. FURY was cancelled in 1981 every single surviving title pre-dating 1965 would still be published 30 years later. Despite, or perhaps because, they were far newer than the commonly licensed adventure heroes of DC or King Features Syndicate, Marvel characters were suddenly everywhere in 1966.

This is the cover of one of the first two Lancer Books mass market paperbacks featuring stories licensed from Marvel and published in 1966. A close examination of it would confirm that it was not meant as a counterpart or supplement to the ongoing reprint titles Marvel had that year. First of all, it's in black and white and, in an attempt to keep the panels as close to their originally published size, they are broken up with one to four panels per page. The first page of each chapter as well as various pin-ups are upright and all others are sideways. The cover itself is a composite of images. The Reed and Sue image, as well as the buildings in the background, were taken from the cover of FF#29 (08/64). The image of Johnny comes from the cover of FF#4 (05/62) and the image of Ben comes from page 17, panel 5 of FF#48 (03/66). The interiors are just as jumbled. Although each panel is kept intact (other than relettering made necessary by the reordering), the first story is created by splicing panels from issues #1 (11/61), #6 (09/62) and #11 (02/63).
The first page uses FF#5 (07/62), p.22, panel 1 plus typeset blurbs to introduce the book.

Above, Lancer page 2 [L2] uses art from a T-shirt and [L3] looks like it might have been lettered by Artie Simek, but it's not credited. [L4] is indicia. [L5] has cameos of Sub-Mariner (excerpted from [L40]) and Dr. Doom (whose source I haven't confirmed yet). If anyone can nail down where that portrait of Doom comes from, it would be appreciated. Both appeared in the story from #6.

[L6] FF#6, p.1 panel 1
[L7] FF#1, p.6 panel 5
[L8] FF#6, p.2 panels 1-3
[L9] FF#1, p.3 panel 4
[L10-23] FF#6, p.2 panel 4 through p.6
[L24-28] new lettering and FF#11(a), p.6 panels 2-4,6-9 and p.7 panels 4-8
[L29-39] FF#1, pp.10-13 and new lettering in the last panel
[L40] FF#6, p.7 panel 1
[L41-86] the rest of FF#6, pp.8-24, except for p.10 panels 5-6 and p.20 panels 6-7

That's all the first story. The curious thing is that all three sources, plus the second story from #11, were already reprinted in the first and third FF Annuals. The pin-ups that are placed between the stories all come from Annual #2.

[L87-90] Pin-ups of Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny
[L91-120] FF#11(b), except p.8 panels 3-4
[L121-122] Pin-ups of Super Skrull and Molecule Man

The third story hadn't been previously reprinted, but it would eventually be reprinted twice, in MARVEL'S GREATEST COMICS #23 (10/69) and #29 (12/70).

[L123-124] #31(10/64), p.1
[L125] #31, p.2 panel 1
[L126-140] #31, p.3 through p.8 panel 4
[L141-147] #31, p.8 panel 5, p.9 panels 1-4, p.10 panels 4-7, and p.11 panels 1-3 and 5-6
[L148-152] #31, p.12 and p.13 panels 1-4 plus new lettering
[L153-172] #31, p.15 panel 4 through p.21 (the end)

[L173-174] Pin-ups of The Hate Monger and Diablo

The Impossible Man was the 'villain' in #11(b). The portions from #11(a) that were spliced into the first story add details to the origin bits from issue #1.
The Mole Man was the villain in #31, meaning that none of the villains in the pin-ups appear in any of the stories. Why they didn't simply use the pin-ups from the first annual, I have no idea.

[L175] This ad (left) lists every title Marvel published during 1966, including the three double-length reprints but excluding the three westerns and three humor titles.

The other Lancer Books mass market paperback published at about the same time (Spring 1966) was advertised on the last page, [L176] (right). I don't own it but I've seen it online. The cover uses art from the cover of AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #8 (01/64). It's also 176 pages for 50¢ and splices different versions of his origin into a composite story, plus stories from #13 and #16, punctuated by features from his first annual. The last two pages are the ad above and a page similar to this one plugging the Fantastic Four book.

This copy is clearly pretty acidified. I bought is used and cheap, so I'm not terribly concerned about resale value. I bought it (and three others) largely out of curiosity about what was licensed out during this time period. Most of it, either scripts or art, was used to produce animation and novelties like trading cards. The print materials include these Lancers, a set of six mini-books (5/8" X 7/8") I would love to get a hold of and the four facsimile comics produced for Golden Records (one of which was in this blog's very first post). There was much more print material licensed out to Canada and England.

In the previous blog installment I went into detail about how the Beatles managed to get to the top of the American charts after three singles failed to get in the top 100 at all. A clip played on television intending to mock them got them national exposure that fueled unprecedented sales. That's not exaggeration; estimates were that on one day in New York their first U.S. Capitol single was selling 10,000 copies an hour. That kind of volume means that they are not just impacting the lives of people who enjoy music but making a significant impact on manufacturing, shipping, advertising, fashion, media, etc. If you had a job in America in January 1964, by March 1964 the Beatles had touched in some manner without either of you being aware of it. The comics on the racks at that time had been created in the months previous, but much of what was going on in Marvel (and with DC's Annuals) was already in the process of change. Starting below is a chronology of that year:

In the last week of December, Capitol releases their first U.S. Beatles single, "I Want To Hold Your Hand" b/w "I Saw Her Standing There".
Jan. 3rd, 1964-- Captain America returns in AVENGERS #4 (03/64) and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (including Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver) debut in X-MEN #4 (03/64). Later that month, DC's Doom Patrol would introduce the Brotherhood of Evil in #86 (03/63) of their own comic. TALES TO ASTONISH #54 (04/64) runs its last suspense back-up story. It will run Giant-Man lead stories and Wasp back-up stories that will each vary in length. That night, the BBC clip appeared on the Tonight Show.

The following week The Black Widow made her first appearance in TALES OF SUSPENSE #52 (04/64). Two part stories begin in both AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #11(04/64) and FANTASTIC FOUR #25 (04/64) and both advertised the upcoming DAREDEVIL title. The FF story involves the Avengers, now with Cap, searching for the Hulk.

VeeJay Records, who were licensed the Beatles first LP and three singles in 1963 and couldn't get any of them to chart, combine the two A-sides that they released into a new single, "Please Please Me" b/w "From Me To You". Swan, the label EMI turned to when VeeJay failed to perform, made a second pressing of "She Loves You" b/w "I'll Get You".
Jan. 18th-- "I Want To Hold Your Hand" enters the chart at 45. Next week it will be #3, then #1.
Jan. 20th-- Capitol releases their first U.S. Beatles album, "Meet The Beatles" (mostly taken from their second U.K. LP).
Jan. 23rd-- DC releases SGT. ROCK'S PRIZE BATTLE TALES (Win/64) under the banner "Giant 80 Page War Annual", which serves as an annual for all DC's war comics despite Sgt. Rock's name and picture on the cover. That makes it the only anthology annual besides SECRET ORIGINS in 1961.
Jan.25th-- "She Loves You" enters the charts at 69. Next week it'll be #21.
Jan. 27th-- MGM Records releases a Tony Sheridan single recorded in Germany in 1961 with the Beatles as his backing band. "My Bonnie" b/w "The Saints" had actually been released in the U.S. in 1962 by Decca, who had since lost (or given) the rights to MGM.
Also on the 27th, Vee Jay re-issues the LP "Introducing the Beatles", slightly changing the song selection from the version they had released in 1963. They remove the two songs that were also on the first British single (the only one not yet released in the U.S.) and replaced them with songs from the second single.
In England, The Beatles record two of their hits in German for the European market before heading to America.
Feb. 1st-- "Please Please Me" enters the charts at 68 and IWTHYH hits #1.

More Lancer in the next post.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

0035: Paar For The Course

In the early 1960's, comics got to the public almost entirely by newsstand distribution. That phrase encompassed every venue where newspapers and magazines might be sold, such as drug stores, grocers, tobacconists, etc., not just newsstands. Even second-string titles typically sold 150,000 copies this way, making mail-order subscriptions and other forms of circulation, however profitable, barely significant in comparison. But opportunistic congressional action in the 1950's had left comics with a social stigma apart from their commercial value to distributors. For instance, daily newspapers would always take precedence over comics. When there's a holiday during the week, comic deliveries get bumped. Not eliminated, since they're still profitable for both the vendors and suppliers, but delayed. If you pay some kind of premium or overtime for working on a holiday, then you make sure you have only enough men and trucks out to get the papers delivered on time. Screw the comics. Independent News, Marvel's distributor at that time, typically delivered comics on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When New Year's Day 1964 fell on a Wednesday, that shouldn't have made any difference, but according to a few sources I've found online the return of the real Captain America in the Silver Age, in AVENGERS #4 (03/64), came out on Friday, January 3rd, 1964. For Stan Lee, and especially for Jack Kirby, this was a really big deal.
(We'll get to this below, I promise)

Stan had been building up a roster of heroes who had to look as though they had walked out of Marvel's science fiction and fantasy titles (where, indeed, many of them debuted, including all of the Avengers except the Hulk). Now, with Captain America, he had an actual genuine established star, not a reinvention (Human Torch) or supporting antagonist (Sub-Mariner). Kirby, of course, co-created Cap in the 40's and left Marvel shortly afterwards in a dispute over royalties involving the character. Having more recently left DC over what amounted to extortion, the chance to outsell them with his old character at Marvel must have been intoxicating. Success is the best revenge. But there was a parallel to another pop culture phenomenon made even more coincidental by the rescheduling.

The story involves the Avengers returning from Gibraltor (where they had fought the Hulk and Sub-Mariner in #3) to New York in a submarine. En route they discover the thawing body of Captain America, who had been frozen nearly 20 years in an iceberg that had drifted south and melted. When they reach the docks in New York a large group of reporters are waiting and the Avengers emerge first to announce their discovery but are turned to stone before they can. It's left to Rick Jones and the revived Cap to find out why and restore them (spoiler: they do). What makes the shipping date curious is the scene in which they greet the reporters (scanned here from the nearest trade on hand):

In late 1963, Jack Paar (host of NBC-TV's "The Tonight Show") was in England waiting to get on a plane when he saw crowds of teenagers waiting for a different flight to arrive from Sweden. When a few young men disembarked the crowd cheered hysterically. Whatever that was, Paar wanted to show it on TV. The easiest, cheapest way would be to license footage from the BBC. The young men were a band and had performed on British television several times but had never been seen in America. Getting footage was simple enough, but a little research revealed that their label, Parlophone/EMI, had offered their records to the American label, Capitol Records, with whom they had a reciprocal "right-of-first-refusal". Capital turned them down, explaining that rock and roll was just a fad that had already come and gone and we wouldn't be seeing it again. Instead, Vee-Jay (home of The Four Seasons) released their records in the U.S. The band's manager contacted Paar, furious that the footage was sold without the band's knowledge or permission, threatening to sue because they were scheduled to appear on another American network a month later, and Paar's broadcast could cause the band legal problems over exclusivity. Instead, on January 3rd, 1964, Paar introduced the clip of the band performing on his show and afterwards sniffed sarcastically, "It's nice to know that England has finally risen to our cultural level". The irony is that, before Paar put them on television just to ridicule them, few people had heard of the band in the U.S. In fact, Vee Jay had only put out their second and third British singles and an edited version of their first album when their cash flow problems forced EMI to find a different US label (Swan) to handle the fourth single, which happened to be the song in the clip Paar aired. The two labels scrambled to manufacture more pressings, but Capitol had already (albeit reluctantly) manufactured U.S. copies of the fifth British A-side with a different flip. They had released it the day after Christmas, as if the intention was to guarantee that it wouldn't be bought as a gift. Then people watching television heard them, many for the first time. And the band whose first three American singles couldn't get into the top 100 had their first charting single go to #1 and stay there for seven weeks, followed by the reissued Swan single for two weeks and a second Capitol single for five.They held the number one spot for 14 weeks in a row, all the while competing with the Vee Jay singles and their own B-sides which charted in various positions as well. Even Canadian pressings showed up on the U.S. charts. If you haven't guessed by now, Jack Paar had been making fun of the Beatles. And the other American show they were scheduled to appear on? The Ed Sullivan Show, with live broadcasts from New York on Feb. 9th and Florida on Feb. 16th. When their plane touched down at the recently renamed JFK Airport in Queens on the 7th, they emerged much like the four Avengers to a crowd of reporters as flash bulbs went off and they were preserved like stone statues in images that are perpetually recycled even to this day. In fact, just to test a theory, I've just done a Google Image search for "Kruschev arriving at Idlewild" (an event from 1960), and the results included pictures of the Beatles at JFK. [The JFK airport was originally built on the Idlewild golf course and named after an officer who died in WWII, but residents still called it Idlewild until it was renamed after Kennedy. Hence the line, "Kruschev's due at Idlewild" in the theme song to the TV show "Car 54, Where Are You?"] The bi-monthly Avengers comic with a March cover date would have still been on the stands when the Beatles arrived, already at #1 before playing a note in the country thanks to an inadvertent boost from Paar. Within a month, six different labels would field singles of their recordings on the charts simultaneously, not including four songs by other artists which also charted that month. By the first week of April, they would have all top five spots on the singles chart (the only time that has ever happened for any artist). By the second week of April they had 14 different songs in the top 100. You can bet that Stan Lee was wracking his brain trying to figure out a way for Jack Paar to make fun of the Hulk.

Because the history of 1964 will bring this set of articles full circle to where it began with MARVEL TALES #1, I'm going to close that phase of it with a bang: a week of shorter daily posts involving other Silver Age reprints coupled with major events at Marvel, the Beatles' progress and DC's evolving 80-page format.

In the meantime, here's the inside front cover to MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS #2 (04/66), to go with the front cover scan above. As with the first issue, the IFC has production credits and a sort-of table of contents. The publisher is once again listed as "Animated Timely Features" (and will be until 1968). It still features reprints of Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and Ant-Man stories. In fact, these are the stories immediately following the ones reprinted in issue #1. And it's also still 64 pages for 25¢. What's different is that where the first issue filled the page count with a "Tales Of Asgard" reprint and an in-house ad, the second issue replaces those with paid ads. It also changes the publishing frequency from 'quarterly' to 'bi-monthly'. in the two months following this issue, MCIC will join MARVEL TALES and FANTASY MASTERPIECES as Marvel's only new titles between DAREDEVIL in 1964 and GHOST RIDER (the western) in 1967. And they were all reprints.

The contents of this issue are:

  • Reprint FANTASTIC FOUR #3 (03/62) "The Menace Of The Miracle Man", 23pp
  • Reprint TALES TO ASTONISH #37 (11/62) [Ant-Man] "Trapped By The Protector!", 13pp
  • Reprint AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #4 (09/63) "Nothing Can Stop...The Sandman!", 21pp
  • (seven pages of paid ads)
One last bit of Beatles trivia before I go? When the Spider-man story reprinted here was originally published, in June of 1963, American singer Del Shannon released a cover version of the Beatles song "From Me To You". By July it made it to #77 in the singles chart, making it the only Beatles' song to chart during that whole year.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

0034: The Crayola 64 Beats The New52

1966 was an interesting year for Superboy. Jerry Siegel returned to scripting him briefly (after writing for Marvel under pseudonyms) and 14 year old Jim Shooter became the regular scripter for Legion Of Super-Heroes stories in "Adventure Comics", finally ending the practice of filling out the issues with Superboy reprints, running full-length LSH stories instead. Most significantly, Filmation brought an animated "Superboy" to television as a series of 6-7 minute shorts meant to alternate with cartoons of adult DC heroes like Superman, Aquaman and Batman (that's right, Aquaman had a show named after him but Flash and Green Lantern did not; they did get three shorts apiece, as did Atom, Hawkman, JLA and Teen Titans and they alternated with Aquaman stories just as Superboy alternated with Superman). A large batch was produced in 1966 and smaller batches in 1967 and 1968, when the schedules could be completed with reruns from the first season. The fourth season was entirely reruns.

By the end of the first season in 1967, this coloring book was produced by Whitman Publishing Company with "Drawings by Jason Studios". The back cover has identical art with the text "Superboy Coloring Book" and the Whitman logo. It is missing the price and stock number (seen here in the upper right corner) and, curiously, it's also missing the words "Authorized Edition" that appear under the word "Book" on the front. The contents were 96 pages of (naturally) black-and-white drawings of characters from the cartoons, including plenty of Ma and Pa Kent and Lana Lang so that kids won't wear down their blue crayons to a nub before they get through the book.

Also in 1966, Andy Warhol was known to have shot a film he called "Superboy" which he never released. There are promotional stills that have circulated featuring known Factory regulars Mary Woronov and International Velvet (not a drag queen, by the way) posing with an unidentified shirtless blond surfer. How they found a surfer in New York, I don't know. How they lured him into a repurposed factory building full of women with Adam's apples in an enormous, then-dirty city like New York and convinced him to pose shirtless..., well, I'd really like to know how anybody would do that because that's some real salesman-of-the-year stuff right there. I don't suppose the page on the right is a little tip-of-the-hat to Warhol's efforts?

Superboy remained wonderful for a few years, at least. As the 1960's ended, the Legion lost their lead in "Adventure Comics" to Supergirl, who had been a back-up feature in "Action Comics" prior to that. The LSH became a back-up in "Superboy" until the early 70's when, after the cartoon was cancelled, LSH became the lead and it was retitled "Superboy and the Legion Of Super-Heroes" (on the cover, anyway; the indicia would remain "Superboy" for years). Often he became a barely speaking supporting character in his own book. Before the DC implosion in 1978 there was an effort to give him some sort of a vehicle by making him the new lead in "Adventure Comics" and giving the old series over to LSH completely, effectively switching places from a decade earlier. After the Implosion things got even more convoluted. Superboy was given a new series outside of DCU continuity while still being a part of the Silver/Bronze Age Superman's past. He was also the subject of the first DC direct market-only comic in December 1979. But it all became moot after Crisis On Infinite Earths gave Superman a new history without Superboy. Or so we thought. There must be something about putting a teen-age boy in tights that fuels constant demands for his return. There's also the prospect for some of vicariously reliving their teens with invulnerability. I just wish he could show a little more invulnerability to acidification.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

0033: Cast in Aluminum, Then in Lacquer

Reading "Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron" today, a person who began reading alternative comics in the past ten years might think it was a proposal for a cable TV series. Think "Preacher", "Fargo", "Walking Dead", "American Horror Story" and especially the return of "Twin Peaks". But when the story was originally published, it was not only inconceivable that it could be adapted for television, some people had a hard time believing it was being published as a comic.

The story actually predates not only those TV series but their source materials as well. If it had an influence in anything, it would be in the "Twin Peaks" predecessor "Blue Velvet" (1986), also the creation of David Lynch. The title, however, comes from the dialogue in Russ Meyer's "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"

Dan Clowes wrote and drew "Like A Velvet Glove..." as a serialized lead feature in his Fantagraphics series "Eightball". This is the same series that became the source for "Ghost World", "Art School Confidential" and "Ice Haven", which became two movies and a short. So, finding this "Original Soundtrack" would only serve to reinforce the suspicion that there was a movie in the making here, no? No. That is, there was speculation about it being adapted into a film in the 90's when everything from "The Mask" to "Tank Girl" was getting into national chain theaters, but this isn't intended to be a soundtrack to a movie. It was written to be a soundtrack to the comic.

Dan Clowes (left) and Tim Hensley (right), as drawn by Clowes

Tim Hensley is the son of Tom Hensley, decades-long keyboardist for Neil Diamond and others. He was also one of several veteran session musicians who recorded a synthetic-instrument Christmas album as Joy Circuit. The album, "Crystal Clear Christmas", was released on the Modern Art label in 1987, but Modern Art was a small independent with little in the way of infrastructure so the manufacturing and distribution was done by Word, Inc., an Irving, Texas-based gospel label (it has since changed hands and has offices in Nashville). Word would eventually be known for releasing early recordings of artists like Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant, but in the mid-80's if it was known at all it was as the home of both revival tent acts (the Bill Gaither Trio) and "contemporary Christian" acts (such as the tone-deaf Sandi Patty). Given the irreverent liner notes on "Crystal Clear Christmas" [for the song "We Three Kings (of ornament R)" they add, "they journeyed onward in search of a full house"], it seems incredible that the ordinarily humorless Word would green light this. Maybe they don't play poker. The fact that it's a jazz album of holiday standards released on a fairly right-wing label at the height of the Reagan administration with sub-Ken Nordine liner notes makes the whole thing feel like an ironic satire dreamed up by Clowes. So, apparently son Tim shares his father's sense of humor. In 1987, Tim Hensley was a college student and comics fan with a band. He contacted Daniel Clowes to see if it would be possible for him to draw the jacket art, based on the aesthetics of Clowes' late 80's series "Lloyd Llewellyn". Apparently, Clowes agreed that they's be a perfect match, since he drew the front and back cover art for the vinyl LP "Split", released under the name Victor Banana [Splat-Co Records 100, 1989]. It was Clowes who then suggested to Hensley that he reciprocate by writing a soundtrack to a comic book series that Clowes was in the process of starting. The series became "Eightball", published about three times a year (initially) by Fantagraphics. Although they had no cover dates, the indicia date for issue #1 was October 1989. It was 32 pages without ads and included the new character Young Dan Pussey, old favorite Lloyd Llewellyn and the now-classic "Devil Doll" short. The lead feature was "Like A Velvet Glove...", in which a man named Clay discovers that his ex-wife appeared in a fetishistic porn film and goes on a road trip to find her. Instead he gets sidetracked and effectively trapped in a bizarre small town that seems to be a microcosm of conspiracy theories come to life.

(exterior of CD booklet)
According to Hensley, the song "O'Herlihy" existed in 1989, but for whatever reason had not been included on the LP "Split". Clowes incorporated the character into the story in order to ensure it would be included on the soundtrack. Then, Clowes continued to keep Hensley updated on the progress of the story and Hensley continued to write songs inspired by specific elements in it. In the middle of that, they both contributed to the faux lounge act Rube Ruben's 7" single "Shmendrick" (Sympathy For The Record Industry SFTRI 117) and the second volume of Ernest Noyes Brookings poems set to music, both in 1991. As 1993 began, the story finally reached its enigmatic end in Eigthball #10 (02/93), at 130 pages not including covers and promotional pieces. It was the only feature in all ten issues; Lloyd had given way to multiple short pieces after 1990. The first full-color Eightball T-shirt featured "Velvet Glove" characters and it was the basis of a silkscreen, mug and even a rubber stamp of Tina (the potato shaped mutant girl who appears on the CD booklet cover, above). Paul and Tina even appear in the two-page meta-story "Eightball" in issue #9.

(interior of CD booklet)
Eightball #11 (06/93) included the four-page satire "Velvet Glove: The Movie", detailing what a nightmarish disaster Hollywood would make out of any attempt to adapt the story to film, followed by a half-page ad for the 10" LP of the soundtrack. For the record, the front and back of the vinyl version were both completely different original Clowes art. The 500 copies disappeared pretty quickly and a year later Eightball #14 (no date; late 1994) offered the soundtrack on CD in the letters' page. The disc is easier to find (I think the print run was a few thousand) and definitely fits the story, although curious fans should be aware that it's about 16 minutes long (the "Split" album offered 20 songs in 35 minutes, so it's consistent with Hensley's style).

Hensley continued playing music, appearing as "Vic Hazelnut" (a nod to Vic Chesnutt) on a single by April March (the sleeve had liner notes by "Ren and Stimpy" creator John Kricfalusi) shortly after the soundtrack was completed. Also in 1993, the Joy Circuit Christmas album was reissued on the Jenkins Peabody label.
The label's next release appears to be the last Hensley/Clowes collaboration I can find. In 1995, Peabody-Jenkins released the CD "Refrains" under the pseudonym Neil Smythe. Reportedly it didn't sell as well, but CDBaby probably still has copies if you're interested. After 2000, Hensley made a belated debut as a cartoonist in his own right after working as a film editor. To date, his most successful effort is probably "Wally Gropius" (Fantagraphics, 2010). Clowes, of course, gradually turned Eightball from a one-man anthology into a series of one-shots in different formats and eventually stopped using the umbrella title sometime after it had already lost its definition. And Terry Zwigoff helped him evade the worst aspects of translating his works to film. In fact, odds are I'll probably stumble across another "other media" post topic involving Clowes before the end of the year.

Friday, July 7, 2017

0032: No Card Necessary

I've bought anthologies in order to read just one of the stories, and sometimes I find myself enjoying some of the others and sometimes I don't. There was a time when, if I could get them sufficiently discounted, I would buy a comic purely for the cover artist. But there are also very rare occasions when I find myself buying a book that is not primarily comics content, yet for some reason has an original story not available elsewhere. Three guesses what this post is about?

Donna Barr is probably best known for her long-running features "Desert Peach" and "Stinz" but, while that's not unfair given the page count devoted to them, there's a large body of discrete smaller works by her scattered across not only the realm of comic books but publishing generally. One such example is the story "Midnight Library", included as a preface to the hardcover "Graphic Novels: A Bibliographic Guide To Book-Length Comics" by D. Aviva Rothschild (Librairies Unlimited, Englewood, CO 1995; ISBN# 1-56308-086-9). The book itself is an odd duck. It's obvious from the selection that the purpose is not to be a "best of" or recommended reading list. The overall vibe is that it is trying to give the curious newcomer a sense of what is out there, as even-handedly as possible, rather than steering them towards the author's personal taste. The closest parallel I can think of is the original Halliwell's Film Guide, which was able to get the most critical defining elements of a film into as few words as possible, often a single paragraph. Those capsule descriptions were far more informative than the silly and misleading 'star system' ratings favored by the numerous competing imitators. The same could be said of Rothschild, in most cases, although her book isn't nearly as comprehensive as Halliwell's. Her knowledge of some of the backgrounds of the creators or the histories of their works is, by her own admission, inconsistant. It's dead on in some cases and spotty in others. Her critical eye is more reliable.

The story in question is below:
In 2007 the title "The Midnight Library" became the name of Barr's blog, which is still active as of this post. For this reason alone, I have to assume this story must have a special place in her memory, or else she had always like the title and intended to use it for a larger work.

In 2005 it became the umbrella title for a series of Young Adult horror novels (a sort of "Goosebumps" for teens). Since then, it's become the title of a manga series.

I think the first thing I ever saw by Barr was an early issue of an Eclipse Comics anthology called "The Dreamery", which ran Stinz stories. That was in the 80's when I was in the process of dramatically cutting back on comics for college purposes. When I caught up again in the 90's she had already placed numerous stories with numerous publishers. It would be another 10-15 years before I started trying to organize my have/want list of her stories using the internet.

Since the character in this story has the same name as the author of the book, this must have been done specifically for the book. That doesn't preclude it being reprinted elsewhere, but I haven't been able to find it referred to in any of the solicitations for her trades.

I probably bought this copy after 2000, I think. It's possible that I bought it new in the 90's but I don't remember doing it. It's done in an academic style and has no dust jacket and no price printed anywhere on it, although it does have a bar code. Odds are that I found it among discounted books gleaned from the warehouse of a chain store I worked in a few years after leaving comics retail. It's still widely available online, both new and used. Since I bought it, it has become available on Kindle. Is it still available? Beats me. I've got my copy.

Information about Barr works that might have fallen between the cracks is always appreciated. Try as it might, the internet really can't be everywhere.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

ADMIN02: Happy Fourth

It's a holiday where I am, so there isn't a normal post prepared. The Fourth of July was the date when the U.S.A. officially began declaring independence. I say "began" because it was when the first signatures were put to the Declaration. People were still adding signatures to it about four years later. And it didn't genuinely became a united country until the Constitution was drawn up and ratified years after that. Still, it was easier than dealing with a condo association.

It's been a month since the first administrative post asking if cosmetic changes to the blog have caused anyone tech problems for people reading on mobile devices. Despite dozens of views there have been no responses, which either means (a) there are no problems, or (b) widening the screen has prevented them from reading the blog altogether. Either way, I'm going to live with it.

Fresher business involves a minor problem I had steering G+ announcements about the blog towards the G+ Comic Book Community. If enough time lapses between G+ posts, the audience to whom the post gets directed defaults to"Public", which means a (theoretically) larger potential audience, except for the fact it does not literally get delivered to every G+ user's feed, just that it can be. In reality, it gets sent to a random mixture, only some of whom are comics fans. The practical result is that a much smaller percentage of a larger number of readers means that the blog actually gets a smaller audience. Having learned that the target audience can be changed by software instead of me, I now know to manually direct it before composing the G+ post by clicking on the word "Public". I went back and made sure that everything posted to "Public" was also reposted to the CBC. Apologies to anybody who got duplicate notices.

Other than that, the blog will be more of the same for a little while. More yard-long ramblings about the minutiae of Silver Age Marvel reprints, the search for Mr.X continues and in between I hope to provide some more random surprises to prevent things from getting in a rut. For instance, I've noticed that I haven't done much involving DC lately, or many things less than 20 years old either. Recalling that the only previous Administrative post ended with a hastily thrown in scan of an Alf trading card (since I didn't have enough to say about it to make a post out of it), I'm thinking that I can kill two birds with one stone using the scans below:
The card fronts above correspond to the backs directly below each one.
These were three promotional cards issued by a comics distributor to remind retailers when the new Batman movie would be in theaters. The distributor wasn't selling tickets, but they were selling comics, books, toys and other merchandise tying into the movie. All of the art on the fronts of the cards were also used in movie posters. There were even more poster designs, but any retailer who needs more than three reminders that there's going to be a Batman feature film and should stock up before the release date is not running a business worth saving.

There'll be something new before the end of the week.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

0031: Three Shots, Four Victims

Stevie Wonder's first three singles didn't make Billboard's Hot 100 chart, but that shouldn't have reflected too badly on him; he was only 12 years old at the time. However, his fourth single, and the album it came from, were both released about a week after his 13th birthday and, oh boy, they turned out to be quite a bar mitzvah for someone who isn't even Jewish. Both went to number one, although they were released May 21, 1963 and topped the charts in August. It was a slow build, but the single ("Fingertips") stayed at #1 for three weeks leading right up to MLK's March On Washington. The next chart published after the march was topped by The Angel's "My Boyfriend's Back" and the album was displaced by Allen Sherman. Oy. Yet another shining example of the music industry being in tune with the times. There wasn't another black artist with a #1 single for the remainder of the year. Rock wasn't welcome either. The top acts were Bobby Vinton ("Blue Velvet"), The Fireballs ("Sugar Shack"), Nino Tempo & April Stevens ("Deep Purple"), Dale &Grace ("I'm Leaving It Up To You") and, for the entire month of December, "Dominique" by The Singing Nun.

So, why the he--...uhh... why the heck did the Singing Nun top the charts for an entire month? And how does it tie in to the history of Silver Age Marvel? It has to do with that handsome devil on the left. Yeah, I know he's Jewish (more so than Stevie Wonder, anyway). Just forget about the Singing Nun for now; we'll get back to her later.

This is a scan of the inside front cover of FANTASY MASTERPIECES #1 (02/66). It functions as a table of contents for the issue, although if you can enlarge the image enough to read it you'll notice that each capsule description of the stories doubles as a plug for whatever title the artist is currently working on. Always the pitchman. (Speaking of which, consider yourself No-Prized if you recognize the comic book Stan is holding in that photo. Use the comments for guesses.) As you can tell from the 12¢ cover prices below, the first two issues of FANTASY MASTERPIECES were in the standard 32-page format, unlike the annuals I've been focusing on so far in these "publishing history" posts. Both were technically published by "Zenith Books, Inc.", another one of Martin Goodman's numerous publishing companies that comprised the Marvel Comics Group. It was not Marvel's habit to print content on their inside front covers. Those had been used for paid advertising until the first issue of MARVEL COLLECTORS' ITEM CLASSICS, as seen in post 0027 last week. Except for this issue, Marvel would only put content on the inside front cover of giant, 64-page format comics and only until early 1969. So, why no ad here?

The simple answer may be that the title was originally planned to be a 64-page giant or annual. The series converted to that format as of issue #3, after all. #1 shipped the same week as PATSY WALKER'S FASHION PARADE, a 64-page one-shot that followed the cancellation of the bi-monthly PATSY WALKER title, arriving in the schedule slot that its next issue would have been in. It consisted entirely of one page pin-ups, paper dolls and other features, either reprinted or from file stock that wouldn't have found any other outlet. Rather than let that material sit around unused while starting a new double-length reprint title, the standard size PW was temporarily replaced with a standard size FM. Once the FASHION PARADE had been taken care of, FM could go back to the original plan.

Of course, that just raises the question of what the original plan was. The first two issues are very much in the mold of the STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #1. In fact, the first story in the first issue had also been reprinted in the Annual. But when the third issue adds 32 pages, 28 of them are Golden Age Captain America stories. [More about that in a future post.] Otherwise, the reprinted stories were from 1959-1962 [not "from the Golden Age of Marvel" as the banner states] and all from the four suspense series that were converted to super-hero series (except the one 1962 story from AMAZING ADULT FANTASY). Marvel's 1964 and 1965 all-reprint Annuals were published because there was an increasing audience for their super-hero titles, much larger than the audience possible for their earlier, lower distributed issues. But before introducing super-heroes, Marvel's suspense titles were the best sellers they had. When the new super-heroes became leads and the suspense stories became back-ups in 1962, that was followed by a greater demand for super-heroes which Marvel answered with super-hero back-ups and/or more pages for the leads. The suspense stories disappeared completely by the summer of 1964. Why reprint them  a year and a half later? I think the answer's on the cover, where the names of the artists are written larger than the story titles. Marvel's artists were producing 50% more comics per month than they had in 1958 and Stan Lee had been cultivating an editorial tone in letters' pages, ad copy and even credit boxes that emphasized the idea that the creators were also characters whose activities could be sold as well. By reprinting the suspense stories, Marvel could sell even more of the artists' names than they could newly produce.

Both of these 32-pagers had 25 pages of story content and 7 pages of paid ads-- no in-house ads, no letters' pages, no text stories or editorial content of any kind (except for the first scan above). All the stories were subsequently reprinted again, either in 1970's horror comics, Masterworks hardcovers or an all-Ditko trade for the 1962 story. The covers were made from excerpted panels retouched and recolored. Yet, one has to wonder what the expectations were for this title, in terms of sales. Television shows like "Twilight Zone" and "Outer Limits", which had a sort of O. Henry-ish synergy with these sort of stories, had since been cancelled. JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY changed its name to THOR between the first and second issue of FM. It was also the third new title in two years for Marvel, all three of which being reprints. It would be another year before a new title of original material would appear. This was far removed from Marvel in the 1980's or 1990's when fans looked forward to new Marvel #1's every month. And yet, Marvel's name recognition and sales were building during this period. Within a year they would be licensing images and characters to Golden Records, Lancer Books, Donruss Trading Cards and Grantray-Lawrence Animation, all involving super-heroes. The suspense stories really wouldn't be a part of that.

Back when the suspense stories were at least still in play, when Thor stories only took up 13 pages of JIM and Stevie Wonder was getting his first #1 single in August 1963, Stan and Jack introduced the 5-page back-up feature "Tales Of Asgard" in JIM #97 (10/63), leaving room for only one suspense story until the Thor lead expands to 18 pages in JIM #105 (06/64). On the week that "Tales..." debuted, Ant-Man became Giant-Man in TALES TO ASTONISH #49 (11/63). The following week the Lizard made his first appearance in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #6 (11/63), Dr. Strange returned from a two-issue absence to become a permanent feature in STRANGE TALES #114 (11/63) while the Human Torch fights an imposter Captain America and, less well known but ultimately more significant, TWO-GUN KID #66 (11/63) begins running 18-page stories plus a 5-page generic western back-up. Previously, since being revived at #60 as a masked hero series, each issue would have 13-page and 5-page Two-Gun stories plus the generic back-up, which would facilitate shuffling smaller stories among Marvel's four remaining western titles when necessary. However, since that revival the one anthology, GUNSMOKE WESTERN, was cancelled leaving three single-character series. The reason that this is significant is that longer stories, on top of the loss of the anthology, reduces the plasticity of the entire sub-group of western titles. RAWHIDE KID would follow suit with longer stories a month later in #37 (12/63) and KID COLT OUTLAW in #115 (03/64).

In mid-August DC released their first FLASH ANNUAL (Summer/1963), and their 17th 80pg Giant overall. For the character who defined DC's Silver Age, it sure took long enough. By contrast, Marvel had only released 6 of their 72pg Annuals but had already included four titles covering humor, sci-fi/fantasy and super-heroes. Of the 22 original Giant Annuals DC would release, the only ones not tied to Superman or Batman would be: Rudolph, Flash and Sgt. Rock. But the Flash Annual would have a further distinction none of them had: a story from before 1950. Promoted on the cover, it reprinted a Jay Garrick story with the first appearance of the original Star Sapphire from 1947. This was coming a month after the first JLA/JSA Crisis crossover ended. (It's no wonder Marvel teased Human Torch readers with a phony Captain America.) Stan's boss, publisher Martin Goodman, didn't seem so encouraged by the readership's interest in historic characters. There were few or no licensing options in 1963 as there would be in just a few years and Stan's talent as a  writer had to be balanced with his editorial duties, which was easier to manage when he was preparing eight formulaic genre comics for release every month in 1958. By 1963 he was the custodian and primary writer for a new mythology that was growing an audience of regular readers beyond bored 10-year-olds with ten cents left over after buying candy. But Goodman had never stopped being a magazine publisher and had just released the second edition of a fumetti style joke magazine called YOU DON'T SAY that was made extremely cheaply by recycling photos from news services instead of creating photos. News photographers need to take more photos of public figures than can be eventually selected by editors for use, so any amount of money to be had for the nearly identical unused photos is gravy. Stan and others would then write non-sequitur gags to match whatever photos were available. The humor wasn't particularly political; readers only needed to know which figures had rivalries,etc. The same jokes could probably have been used with sports figures or film stars. The rest of my notes on the topic are below:

So, three shots were fired. John F. Kennedy was killed. Governor John Connally was severely injured. Bystander James Tague was superficially wounded. YOU DON'T SAY was cancelled at the printers. Three shots, four victims. The bright side of losing the magazine is that it required keeping the comics line. One issue of the B&W magazine was priced at four times a color comic and cost a fraction to produce. It would be awfully tempting to believe that the superior profit margin could be replicated with several similar titles, but I suspect that the harsh reality is that the magazine's success was tied to there being only one of it. Putting out two such magazines a month, for instance, would only bring in more profit than the comics if they continued to sell as much as releasing one semi-annually. It's more likely that the sales would be diluted. And by the time they realized that they had made a mistake, the artists who had been making the comics would have found other positions and reassembling them would be nearly impossible. And they were making innovations all the time. In fact, the very issue of FANTASTIC FOUR quoted in the notes above (#21) introduced WWII hero Nick Fury in the present day which (spoilers) meant he survived the war. But it also shows him working for the CIA and promoted to Colonel. That became the first step towards introducing S.H.I.E.L.D. into Marvel continuity. The same week that issue came out, Dr. Strange was upgraded from a 5-page back-up to an 8-page back-up, starting with his origin in STRANGE TALES #115 (12/63). This meant the title gave up suspense back-up stories before JIM. The same week also saw the introduction of Iron Man's first slimmed down, red and yellow armor in TALES OF SUSPENSE #48 (12/63). Then, in October, TALES TO ASTONISH #51(01/64) added a regular Wasp back-up feature. Because the Giant-Man feature had irregular lengths, there were suspense stories in #51 and #54. Immediately after, TALES OF SUSPENSE #49 (01/64) added "Tales of the Watcher", a 5-page back-up that ran 10 issues. Because the Iron Man feature stayed at 13 pages for a while, issues #50-54 also carried 5-page suspense back-ups. In November, DC completed their second wave of annuals for the year with Batman (#6) and Superman (#8). After the assassination, Kirby returned to Thor and the nation mourned their first Catholic president by buying enormous quantities of a nun singing in French. Stan had been right in his hunch that the public would not be in the mood for jokes involving Kennedy, even if the jokes weren't at his expense. DC, however, published a story in ACTION COMICS #309 (02/64) a month after the assassination in which Superman fools Lois Lane and Lana Lang when they try to prove that he's Clark Kent by having Kennedy disguise himself as Clark as a favor. Of course, the story had been prepared well before his death, but one has to wonder why weeks of advance notice weren't enough to find any other way to fill 14 pages when your company's shareholders control both the printing presses and the distributor. Why they thought lining the President up with the Legion Of Super Pets for a public appearance as a practical joke would be seen as a 'fitting tribute' is still mystifying over 50 years later.

Stan Lee had a grasp for the mood of the public that DC's editors did not and heading into the 1960's the gap between them in that regard would become a chasm. Although Julius Schwartz saw the value in being attentive to that segment of fandom that cared enough to write fan letters, Stan's wider view enabled him to reach people who weren't already reading and give them an incentive to start and come back. He also knew when to sit back and give Jack Kirby room. So, when the year ended with the country anxious about its future and identity and with its leadership disrupted, Marvel was prepared with a story to run in the first week of January that would make the fourth issue of Avengers as sought after as #1. And that would be a good place to start the next Silver Age post.

Previously on "Sieve Eye Care"...