Welcome to another fun filled issue of Just Newsprint, the fun and free
comic newsletter. Take a walk back to when comics were on newsprint and
it only took pocket change to buy them. We take a look at comics from
the sixties to the eighties and place the emphasis on fun. This may
sound strange, but before comics became big business, they were
considered entertainment. Much like renting a movie, comics were a
source of fun for kids and adults who wanted to dream. We are trying to
recapture that with the web site and this newsletter. So put your price
guides away and take those books out of the Mylar sleeves and read them!
Give Those Ducks a Try
In my many years behind the counter at a comic store, one of the
toughest tasks was getting people to take the Disney duck books serious.
I tried and tried to get people to read Uncle Scrooge, Donald Duck and
more. I pleaded with them to just give them a try. I even gave away
copies (which I guess were handed to kids and never read).
I did convert a few people to the wonderful stories in Uncle Scrooge.
Carl Barks and Don Rosa both did grand adventures as the ducks
globetrotted from one exotic locale to another. They were Indiana Jones
way before Harrison Ford cracked that bullwhip. Uncle Scrooge has been
searching for these lost artifacts for decades.
The stories were fast paced and full of action and even some humor.
While they were meant for all ages, they weren't kiddie stories. These
provided enough entertainment for the whole family and were suitable
even for the younger readers. How many books can make that claim? The
artwork was bright and colorful and provided enough detail to enhance
the story, but not too much as to detract from it. Some of the artwork
was downright gorgeous, especially some of the newer Don Rosa stuff.
All in all, the Disney ducks are anything but kiddie books. So get over
your phobia and give them a try, you may just be pleasantly surprised!
A Hero is only as Good as his
-With so many different superheroes out there, sometimes it is something
as simple as the gear that sets one hero apart from another. We have
many super powered heroes and take away Thor's hammer and you just have
another. Ditto for Captain America and his shield, would he be half as
cool and popular without it? With this in mind, I decided to come up
with a top ten list of what I feel is the best superhero gear. Once
again, this is only my opinion and your may vary. Feel free to send in
your own lists. (Note: I didn't include things like Wolverine's claws as
they are more a part of him as opposed to the rest of these items).
10. Daredevil's Billyclub-While not quite
as known as the rest of these items, it proves to be an invaluable item
for the very mortal hero. It works as both a projectile weapon and a
means of transportation. When you cannot fly and don't have super
powers, you need any edge you can get.
9. Green Arrow/Hawkeye's Trick arrows-Since they
both are pretty much the same (net arrow, exploding arrow, etc...), I
put them together. While the bows are neat, it has always been the
thrill of seeing what unique arrow they could come up with next. Also,
it was fun to see how many similar arrows they each had.
8. Silver Surfer's Surfboard-Hang ten with the
alien! This had to be both one of the coolest and one of the strangest
items a superhero ever possessed. With it, he could glide across the
7. Batman's Utility Belt-The Wal-Mart around the
waist! This thing had everything! There was nothing you could throw at
Batman that his belt couldn't counter! That sucker had to weigh about
6. Wonder Woman's Lasso-Not only does it catch
evil doers, but it forces them to tell the truth. A device like this
could be quite useful in the O.J. trial, Whitewater, etc...
5. Iron Man's Armor-Even if he did have more
types of armor than most women have pairs of shoes, they were still
awesome! Not only was it a powerful weapon in the fight against crime,
but it was an advertisement for Stark Enterprises. Much more effective
than a plain old business card.
4. Spiderman's Web Shooters-While these items
were cool, I think it was the thought that a person designed them and
built them. Not some alien technology or major corporation, but just a
regular man (with a very high IQ). Plus, he needed to work just to be
able to afford the supplies to make more web fluid. My one question is
did these have an adjustable nozzle or something? I mean they could
shoot a strand of webbing or a whole web.
3. Green Lantern's Ring-"In Blinding day, in
darkest night". The Green Lantern ring give him unlimited power and only
his imagination and willpower can limit the ring's potential. My only
gripe was the lack of imaginative things he did with the ring. Until
recent times, it seemed like he would mostly do about a dozen things
(make hammer, huge hand, etc...) with the ring. I would be having fun
and dropping green anvils on villains and scaring the beegeebees out of
them with giant green monsters.
2. Captain America's Shield-How he can make that
round shield do all those tricks is still beyond me? It can bounce off
four walls and two villains heads, plus disarm a person and then return
to Cap in time to stop an oncoming bullet. Only thing it cannot do is
1. Thor's Hammer-This is probably the coolest
item ever in comics! With it, Thor can control weather, fly, take out
building and teleport. Plus, no one else can
lift it (ok, almost no one else as there have
been a few people) and it always returns to its master.
Best Kept Secrets
Some of the best kept secrets in comic book collecting is the very
enjoyable and very affordable early issues of Marvel Team-up and the DC
100 giants from the 70's. Both feature a bunch of great stories
reprinted and with some searching, can be found very cheap. The early
Marvel Tales book in the double digit range ($10+), but I have been able
to find them as low as fifty cents and usually never more than a few
bucks (this is of course for ones that are good to very good shape). The
issues in the teens and twenties would have one Spiderman story and two
other stories featuring the Human Torch in one and the Mighty Thor in
the other. Is that a great combo or what? Plus, you can see the
beginnings of many of the classic villains like Crusher Creel, Paste Pot
Pete and the Lizard. Paste Pot Pete was ridiculous looking in his old
costume. Not that the name was much better.
The DC Giants came out in the 70's and ran in the usual DC books. But
unlike regular books, these were 100 pages long and had about six
different stories in them. A Detective comics I recently added to my
collection had two Batman stories, a Manhunter, Elongated Man, Atom, and
a Dr Fate story. A great selection of stories for the mere buck I paid!
A great and very affordable way to read many golden age stories. Plus,
the different books would have different stories, like the horror ones
would feature more horror related stories. There were also romance and
other of these giants and I urge anyone who really wants to read a great
mix of stories to search these out!
I was at a flea market and saw both copies of the Two Gun Kid
mini-series from the Marvel Select line. Being a Marvel western fan, I
always wanted to read these, but since the cover price was a prohibitive
$6.95, I never bothered to buy them or even order them for my comic
store. I knew a bad idea when I saw it. Western books weren't very
popular when it came out (1997) and at $6.95 an issue, it was doomed.
But at the flea market, they were only a fraction of the price, so I
picked them up and was finally able to read them.
My first impressions was that the art had too much detail. Unlike the
original series that featured the simple, yet effective art that was a
Marvel trademark in their heydays, this art was more like the art of
today, too busy. While I can overlook this, I could not overlook the
fact that they made the story too complicated. Half the joy of the old
westerns is they were much like the Spaghetti westerns of the era, basic
storytelling with a healthy dose of action.
But this new incarnation was nothing like that. instead you have
international intrigue with Japan, Russia and Canada involved in a hunt
for some white minks. There was none of the charm of the old series,
just more of the same that we have learned to live with in this era of
more is better. After finishing the story, I was glad I went with my
original instinct and didn't buy them at the highly inflated price. Not
that the story was bad, it just wasn't the Two Gun Kid. It was a hollow
shell of its former self and the only similarities was the name and the
mask he wore. Everything else was different and in my opinion, not as
good. Just another example of how far the comic industry has come. Once
again we see that there are sacrifices in the name of progress.
Bargain Bin Bonanza
A series that once was somewhat expensive and quite popular (it even had
a movie based on it) was the venerable Howard the Duck. The cantankerous
duck who was as known for his stogie as he was for his temper. The
famous line "Trapped in a world he never made" introduced us to every
issue of the series. The series contained alot of great humor and
spotlighted Steve Gerber at his best. Howard and his girlfriend of
sorts, Beverly made their way through the streets of Cleveland and faced
some of the most bizarre characters ever assembled in a comic. The Bong
and many of the others kept the comic from ever being predictable. Now
that time has passed by Howard, the series can be found quite
affordably. The only issues that may cost you are issues #12 and #13,
because of the appearance of the rock group Kiss. If you like Howard,
you may also want to check out Steve Gerber's other duck book, Destroyer
Duck. This was done to raise money for his lawsuit against Marvel over
the Howard the Duck character.
Question of the Month
Once again I borrow from the very popular, Retro Times. One of the most
popular features is the question of the month. This is where I ask a
question and give the readers a chance to respond. It is a chance to
give your opinion. So without any further adieu, here is the QUESTION OF
THE MONTH! If you could have any one super power, what would it be? I
purposely did this because if I just asked which superhero you would
want to be, the majority of us would want to be Superman with his tons
of powers. But with just one power, you must think a little bit about
the consequences of that power. I think I would probably want Aquaman's
ability to breathe and withstand the pressures of the sea. I think it
would be great to be able to live under the sea. While there would be
some possible dangers (sharks, eels, etc...), I think with some caution
it would be quite enjoyable. Plus, with all the wrecks and stuff down
there, you would have no problem building a home.
Classic Commercial of the
While reading a great issue of Marvel Tales (issue #16), I noticed a
small ad at the bottom of the page. It was unique enough to get me to
read it. It was only a print ad, so here it is:
"HOME MADE ROOT BEER-Amazing new kit contains recipe and special extract
for making sparkling, delicious Old Fashioned root beer right in your
own kitchen. One kit makes up to 5 full gallons with simple, easy to
follow instructions, KIDS...make up to $10.00 profit on each batch with
your own "HOME MADE" root beer stand. Rush only $2.00 for this amazing
I was stunned! Right after reading this, I went and polled all the
people who would have been comic reading age when this issue came out. I
asked what it was like to be able to drive down the street and buy
homemade root beer from these stands. I was bummed that I missed on it
as I do love a good root beer. After polling as many people as I could,
I could not find one person who ever remembers buying home made root
beer. Was I in the wrong part of the country? Were the people around
here just too lazy to brew their own root beer? Did they just opt for
the hassle free lemonade stand? Guess I will never know.
I did send a letter to the company, probably in vain. I was hoping they
were still in business and maybe I could sell sparkling (I have never
seen sparkling root beer have you?), delicious root beer on the
internet. Keep tuned to see if we become Tomorrow's Heroes Comics, Games
and Root Beer. Wonder if Hires got his start this way?
Pacific Comics, Ahead of
One of the forgotten companies was one that had lasting effects on the
market that are still felt to this day. Back in the early 80's, a
company name Pacific Comics challenged Marvel and Dc for market share.
They were the first real threat in a long time and they really made the
comic industry take notice.
While many of their books are unknown to many readers, they were quite
popular at the time. Books like Twisted Tales and Alien Worlds attempted
to capture the essence of the EC Comics, while books like Captain
Victory and Destroyer Duck gave fan favorites like Jack Kirby and Steve
Gerber a place to spotlight their creations. Also they catapulted
creators like Mike Grell and Sergio Aragones into the spotlight. While
both were around before that, their work on Starslayer for Grell and
Groo the Wanderer for Aragones helped to make them even more known to
the average comic fan.
While their stable of comics was quite diverse and their pool of talent
was quite formidable, it was the impact they had on the big two that
really is their legacy. Before they came, Marvel and DC had a
stranglehold on the industry and there seemed to be nothing that could
change that. Sure there were independents out there that had achieved
some success, like Elfquest and Cerebus, but they did nothing to keep
Marvel and DC from owning a 90%+ share of the market. But Pacific not
only came onto the scene, but also went after the superhero market, a
mainstay of the big two. For the first time, Marvel and DC had to fight
back and they did it in a way that would have made Sam Walton (the
founder of Wal-Mart) proud. Instead of fighting fairly, they tried to
squeeze out the competition.
It was at this time that Marvel and DC introduced something that still
remains to this day. The advent of the miniseries came into prominence
during this era. Also the trade paperback became a staple in this era.
While these may seem like good ideas, their origins were alot more to
fill the shelves and force the comic dealers and newsstands to spend all
their disposable income on Marvel and DC products and try to push out
Pacific. They will undoubtedly tell you another story, but it is
obviously more than coincidence. Why, after decades of status quo, did
they all of a sudden begin trying all kinds of new stuff? This was also
a time when the amount of new titles and spin-offs were really growing.
But it was more than Marvel and DC's tactics that did in Pacific Comics.
Their business practices and eye for quality can both be questioned.
They did extend credit too easily to too many people and ended up
getting burned. Also, they started to put out alot of bad books. Books
like Skateman, from Neal Adams, is a prime example of a book that should
never been published. Add these to more and more titles shipping late
(Ms Mystic was a fine example of their lateness) and the exodus of some
of the talent and you had the downfall of Pacific. Too bad as they
really did have some great books.
While the company is gone, their legacy is still alive. Not only are the
miniseries and the trade paperbacks a major part of the comic market,
but companies like Image and Dark Horse owe a debt to them. While they
failed, they did show that the market can and will support more than the
big two. They gave many companies that followed (like First, Comico and
Eclipse) hope. They proved that even the big boys could be shaken and
the market has never been the same since.
My First Super Hero Comic
Much like many other firsts in ones life, I still remember the first
superhero comic I ever bought. While I had been reading comics for a
long time before I ever read a superhero comic, it was the first book
that really opened my eyes to the boundless possibilities of the comic
market. Before this, my only exposure to comics was the three packs of
funny animal comics I used to get at a local bookstore. As far as I
knew, Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck, Pink Panther and others were the comic
market. I enjoyed these and never even bothered with anything else.
But one day I was staying over my friend Dave's house and he pulled out
his comics for us to read. There was Thor, Captain America, Human Torch
and the Hulk. I remember the enjoyment I received from reading these
books. Unlike the short and humor driven stories I was accustomed to,
these feature action and lots of big, scary creatures. So the next day,
we headed to 7-11 and I purchased my first superhero comic. I plopped
down my money and bought a copy of Invaders Annual #1. I still remember
why I bought it, I got three popular characters in one book. Instead of
having to choose if I wanted a Captain America or Human Torch comic, I
could get both and Namor to boot. What a deal!
While my original copy was read so many times that it fell apart. But I
did pick up a copy a few years back and treasure it. Once in awhile, I
will pull it out and try to recapture the magic.
Well, I did expand the size once again. It is my goal to constantly make
a better and longer newsletter for you! As always, your comments are
greatly appreciated! Also, submissions are always welcomed! See you in a
month when we give it another try!