Dream Come True

Comics, Geek

For years I had this recurring dream where I would be walking down the street and come across a huge stash of comics sitting in boxes on the sidewalk. In my dream, I never got to open the boxes and see what was inside, but I envisioned them filled with great old books to complete my collection or at least sell for a tidy sum.

So imagine my disbelief when Victor, my building superintendent, pulled me aside the other day. He took me into his storage space in the basement and showed me box after box overflowing with comics! Turns out they had been left to him by a couple of vacating tenants over the years, and he had just gotten the bright idea of trying to sell them. Even though I’ve lived in the building for over seven years, he never knew I was a cartoonist until fairly recently, so when he found out, he figured I was the guy to show them to. Now I love Victor; he’s a great super and he always goes out of his way to help out Sari and I. So I agreed to go through the boxes and see what was what.

It took me a week or so of hour-long visits, but eventually I went through the thousands of books, culling what I thought had some re-sale value. (I’m sort of touch with that market from selling books from my collection over the years.) Sadly, the vast majority of the comics were crappy ’90s Marvel and Image books, published during the speculator rage when supply way outpaced demand. But I did find a mother lode of vintage 1970s Marvels, going back to the era of 25-cent books. Most of the comics were in awful condition, having been read multiple times and never bagged or boarded. Even so, there were a couple of gems, including the first appearance of The Punisher in Amazing Spider-Man #129, the first appearance of Gambit in X-Men #266, and a nearly complete run of Claremont/Byrne/Austin X-Men.

I took the books with “potential” up to my apartment, and spent some hours here or there over the last few weeks putting them up on eBay. I also invested in some comics boxes and bags and boards. When all was said and done, I netted Victor over $300 (the Punisher Spider-Man alone sold for over $100!). Victor was thrilled when I brought him the cash the other day, and I’ve been getting to enjoy reading old comics, and filling some gaps in my old collection (mostly Byrne and George Pérez books). And I still have a bunch of books left to sell, when I get around to it. Who says dreams don’t come true?


Showcase Presents THE ATOM

Comics, Geek, Review

I just finished Showcase Presents: The Atom #1, one of those 500-page black-and-white reprint tomes put out by DC. (Don’t ask me why; I got it free last time I was at DC’s offices.) The book includes three issues of Showcase and 17 issues of The Atom‘s own title. All the stories are by Gardner Fox, with art by Gil Kane and inks by Murphy Anderson and Sid Greene.

Although it was a bit of a slog, there was something satisfying in really immersing myslf in DC’s Silver Age. I was never actually emotionally engaged with any of the tales, but they were fun in a goofy, kidlike way. One thing that really impressed me was the pure craftsmanship of the form back then. There was definitely a different standard for artwork back in the early-to-mid-60s, and you could see that professional pride in Fox, Kane, and Anderson’s work. And Fox was a true polymath: in the course of a couple years (1963–1965) of The Atom, he tackled the 1956 Hungarian revolution, the space race, 18th-century English history, miniature card painting, Norse mythology, and numismatics, just to name a few. You could enjoy these stories and actually learn something about the real world in the process. How quaint.



This past weekend, the Austin American-Statesman ran a special summer movie preview in their entertainment supplement, and they asked me to draw the cover. In honor of the Incredible Hulk film premiering in June, the art director had me do an Andy Warhol-style portrait of ol’ greenskins. As a guy who doesn’t make a living drawing superheroes, it’s fun to go back to my roots once in a while. For this one, though, all I had to do was make an angry face in the mirror, remove my glasses, change my hairstyle, “Warhol” it up, and voila!

As a bonus, here’s a link to the a.d.’s story about his search for the “Credible Hulk”…

Super… Bowl, Tuesday, Sons

Comics, Geek, Review

Saga of the Super SonsLast night I capped off this “super” week by finishing the Saga of the Super Sons trade paperback, a guilty pleasure of mine which came in the form of an X-mas gift. (Thanks, Sari’s mom & dad!) I actually own most of the original World’s Finest comics in which the Super Sons appeared (starting in 1973 and running sporadically until ’76), but it’s great to have them all collected in one volume.

As a kid, I loved Superman Jr. and Batman Jr. (“sons” of Superman and Batman, duh!), the titular heroes of the stories. Written by Bob Haney (with the best stories drawn by Dick Dillin), the Super Sons were obviously a misguided attempt to bring “relevance” (a big 70s term) to the Superman/Batman universe — without getting as hard-core or political as the now-classic Denny O’Neil/Neal Adams Green Lantern/Green Arrow comics. The Super Sons were a perfect fit for my tastes at the time, as they combined super-powered adventures with a “hip,” boho-lite milieu similar to my own pre-adolescent life.

Even though the Super Sons exist completely outside normal continuity, DC refused to declare that their adventures were “imaginary stories”; a distinction I’ve always found hilarious — as opposed to the “real” adventures of the superhero in question?! In fact, Haney/Dillin always make a point of obscuring the sons’ mothers’ identities, which led to a number of stories where the kids get in arguments with their parents, with the moms’ faces always turned from the viewer or engulfed in shadow!

The stories usually involve the junior heroes riding around out West, Easy Rider-style, on a souped-up chopper or dune buggy, defying their parents’ wishes that they just settle down to “normal” lives. The tales tend to follow a predictable pattern: the boys get in a “generation-gap” argument with their dad and storm off together. They fall into some misadventure, jump to a number of conclusions, make some dumb mistakes, and are eventually bailed out of trouble by their stronger, wiser fathers. (In fact, they make a big point that Superman Jr.’s powers are only half those of his dad’s, seeing as how he has a mortal mother.) It’s abundantly clear what the editorial tone of these stories are: give kids room to rebel — a little — but make sure they know who’s boss in the end.

In my favorite story of the collection, “The Shocking Switch of the Super-Sons,” Bruce Jr. and Clark Jr. swap dads for a time, and then all four visit an encounter camp to “discover” themselves! The dialogue throughout all the stories is a hilarious pastiche of hipster/black dialect: Clark Jr. and Bruce Jr. never go more than a panel without proclaiming something “crazy” or “far out,” or calling each other “baby,” not to mention any nearby females “chicks” or “dolls.” It’s classic stuff.

The collection sort of comes out of left-field; I wonder what compelled DC to release it now? I can’t imagine that there’s a huge audience for the book, outside of folks like myself with an ironic sense of nostalgia. The book is nicely produced, with a beautiful Nick Cardy cover (was he was one of the all-time great cover artists, or what?!), and the addition of a couple of oddball Super Sons stories from the 80s & 90s (including one written by Bob Haney shortly before his death), as well as a cover gallery. But the one thing the book really needs is a foreword or introduction. The stories are just too weird to escape comment!

Come say hello to my little friends!

Comics, Geek

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAfter some mix-ups with shipping, I finally received my X-mas gift from Sari, a set of curio cabinets for the small collection of toys, models, and action figures that I’ve acquired over the years. (Yes, like every other cartoonist on earth, I am at least part geek.)

So with a small amount of fanfare, I mounted one of the cabinets on the wall, and finally was able to create a home for (from top left. reading like a comic) Klinger, Hot Lips, Hawkeye, and B.J., Will Clark and Willie Mays; Boba Fett; Willie McCovey; Jack Clark; some cool Tintin chocolates; super-deformed Wolverine and Superman; the Giants Pontiac Firebird; Tintin, Snowy, and Captain Haddock; and Tintin, Snowy, and the Thompson Twins.

They all seem to be adjusting well to their new home.