The Simple Comic Newsletter!
I would like to apologize for skipping last month. It is just with
setting up the new website, some sacrifices had to be made and this was
one of them. Now that all the tough stuff is behind us and the new web
page is running smoothly, I should be back on a normal schedule with
Just Newsprint. I hope to expand the size of it, starting next month.
Now onto the issue and enjoy!
The Many Incarnations of Tarzan
One hero who has made the rounds from one company to another is Tarzan.
The king of the jungle has grabbed the vine from Dell to Gold Key to DC
to Marvel to Malibu and finally to Dark Horse. Man does he get around!
In the meantime we have seen the quality of the stories and art go from
good to bad to worse and back to good. From the gorgeous covers and no
frills stories of the Dell to the goofiness of the Marvels to the deeper
stories at Dark Horse, we have seen alot of sides of the jungle man. But
which is really the best version? Which is the one that best captures
the true essence of the character. Not just the glamorized version of
Hollywood, but the more savage version from the Edgar Rice Burroughs
While it may be a matter of taste, I really enjoy the new Dark Horse
versions. They combine some good writing and very pleasing art. The
stories tend to be a few issues long. They are the right length to where
you are left wanting and you aren't bored. Plus, you get to see him team
up with Burrough's other famous creation and my personal favorite, John
Carter of Mars.
While the Dark Horse are probably my personal favorites of the Tarzan
comics, I feel the Dell come a close second. The painted and especially
the photographed covers are wondrous. They really draw you into the
book, like a good cover should. The interior art is quite basic, the
house style at Dell. It does its job of conveying the story without
distracting from it. The stories themselves are quick and simple. They
are the kind you read under a shaded tree on a summer day. They flow
much like the welcomed breeze.
The other versions have their pluses and minuses, but none have anything
that makes them stand out. They are decent reads and welcome additions
if you find them cheap. I cannot bad mouth them as I am too big a fan of
Tarzan. Having read all the novels in my youth, I can still remember my
first trip to Jewel city of Opar or the first vivid memories evoked from
seeing the words "Elephant Graveyard". So I have a special fondness for
the jungle king and tend to find the best in all his books.
They Will Always Be First
Of all the companies that ever produced comics, my favorite is still
First Comics. Sure Marvel and DC have given me plenty of great stories
over the years, but no company consistently produced books I had to have
like First Comics.
Many of my all-time favorite comics were produced under the First
banner. Such great titles as Jon Sable, American Flagg, Nexus, Badger,
Grimjack and many others kept me reading and reading. There was a
constant level of quality that seemed to infect all their titles. For a
period, they seemed to do no wrong.
Unlike many companies, First was willing to take a chance. American
Flagg was considered very controversial for the time. They were the
first company to bring in Manga work with Lone Wolf & Cub. This risk
taking did eventually spell their doom as they sunk a great deal of
money into their revival of the Classic Illustrated, which didn't do as
well as expected. This coupled with a gradual deterioration of many key
titles and you had the end of a great company.
But the Impact of First comics can still be felt in the industry. They
were one of the first who realized there was a market for the Japanese
comics and Lone Wolf and Cub was the beginning of a growing stream of
material that has been brought over here. They also realized that
diversity was important for a healthy market and offered a large
selection of material. They also became a haven for many great creators
and their creations. They gave them an avenue to do their books in an
age when Marvel and DC were more interested in their own creations.
But the success of these creators unfortunately led them to other
companies and these properties which First owned rights to were put into
the hands of other artists and writers and most of the time they
suffered for it. Grell left Jon Sable and went to Green Lantern, Baron
eventually left Nexus and Badger for the Flash and Punisher, Chaykin
left American Flagg for Blackhawk and even Paul Smith went from Nexus
art to doing the Uncanny X-Men.
In conclusion, First Comics was a pioneer and a force in the comic
industry. From their great selection of comics to their large selection
of graphic novels (one of the first third party companies to do this),
to their introduction of Japanese comics to the Western Hemisphere to
doing the first computerized comic (Shatter), First left their mark on
the industry. They will not soon be forgotten and for this comic fan,
they will always be First in my book!
Top Ten Best Superpowers
With this continuing to be the section that receives the most feedback,
I decided to do another installment. As long as my fertile mind can keep
coming up with them, I will be doing them. This month is a list of what
I think are the best superpowers to have. Each power counts as one
entry, or else I would say that I want to be Superman with his dozen or
so powers. I am also only including the "natural" powers, i.e.: the ones
that aren't based on some technology or artifact. So without any further
adieu, here are the TOP TEN BEST SUPERPOWERS!
it would be one of the most practical powers, it does have its
limitations. I know that if I had it, I would only use it for selfish
purposes like sneaking into events and pranks (not to mention what every
red blooded male would do with this power). So it would be best for
everyone if this power wasn't available to me.
9. Super Strength-While I would enjoy
being able to kick some serious hiney, this is one power that could
cause more harm than good. If you don't have some amount of
invulnerability to protect you, you would break alot of bones in your
body. It would also be depressing as I would have the power to hit 1000
foot homers and not enough hand/eye coordination to connect with the
8. Flight-This would be one sweet
power! Nothing would impress friends like a good flight around the town.
But with all the power lines, buildings, planes and such, it would be
pretty scary up there. But what a view!
7. Super Speed-Carl Lewis eat your
heart out! How about a five second mile? Now this would be really cool.
Imagine throwing a touchdown pass and also catching it! Would be really
great, until you find out you are standing in the endzone wearing the
proverbial birthday suit, because your clothes couldn't keep up with
6. Super Stretch-I cannot think how
many times I wanted this power. All those times when what I need is on
the other side of the room or I just locked my keys in the car. Wouldn't
it be nice to make a mock key with your finger or to always be able to
fit in your clothes because you can stretch to fit any size. Belts would
be a thing of the past!
5. Super Memory-Know how Superman
remembers everything (the super computer brain)? Wouldn't that be a
really awesome and quite practical power. Just think of the money you
could make on Jeopardy! Tests would be a breeze! Plus for parties, you
could memorize every joke ever written, so you would always have
something funny to say!
4. Body Possession-This is the power
that characters like Jericho (from the New Teen Titans) and Deadman
have. You know where you can go into and control another person. Think
of what you could accomplish with this power! Take over an auditor and
have the government give you a big refund instead of owing money or hop
into Saddam Hussein and make him resign as ruler of Iraq, the
possibilities are endless!
3. Invincibility-Imagine skydiving
without a parachute or jumping in front of a bulldozer for kicks. Sure
would make life easier knowing that nothing could hurt you. Health
insurance would be a distant memory. Just think of the jobs you could do
and how much in demand you would be.
2. Breathe Underwater-I always
thought it would be so awesome to be able to live underwater. To be like
Aquaman or Submariner and be able to go back and forth. While there are
quite a few hazards in the sea, it would be nice to know you could go
down and stay there.
1. Changeling-My all-time favorite
power and one I have dreamed of for decades is the ability to be able to
turn into any animal, real or imagined. Like Changeling from the New
Teen Titans or where I first saw it, the guy from the Arabian Nights
that ran on the Banana Splits show. Just think, anything from a lowly
fly to a towering dragon! Dare to dream!
Bargain Bin Bonanza
This month's bargain bin book is one from the aforementioned company,
First. It is the unforgettable American Flagg. This is the story of a
lawman that comes down from Mars to Earth to restore peace. He finds
that Earth is quite lawless and his first duty is to stop the riots that
come after the airings of Bob Violence, a television show. It is
creative stories like this that were the draw to the title. Oh yeah and
the mature themed material. It was interesting the stuff they came up
with like basketball being an illegal, underground sport.
Rueben Flagg, the main character, was a man's man. He was tough and shot
from the hip. In a lawless world, he had to try and bring some sanity to
Earth, a place where the general populace was sterile and morals were in
rapid decay. Chaykin's art fit the series to a tee and this was where he
perfected his style. It was a style he mimicked too often in the future,
as all his leading characters would end up looking like Rueben Flagg.
But here it was new and fresh. It was also risky and helped pave the way
for more widespread acceptance of more mature comics that weren't porno
comics (though Chaykin's Big Black Kiss, did unfortunately fit the
latter mold). Another step by the comic community to make comics a more
adult market and step away from the almost exclusive kid market. Comics
were growing up and American Flagg was one of the books that helped
speed up the process.
This Animal Man cover is still probably one of my all-time favorite
comic covers. It has a very strong message and really hits home. From
the pure white background, which pushes forward the image to the look on
Animal Man's face, it is a very moving cover and one that still sticks
with me to this day. I guess it is my love for animals that is touched
as I view this cover. The sheer senseless waste of such a majestic
creature really hits home. Especially being the national bird, it makes
the image that much more powerful. Brian Bolland, the artist had a
wonderful run of great covers on the Animal Man series (not to mention
his work on Judge Dredd) and I feel these would be reason alone to buy
this series. But the stories are also quite good and you soon forget the
silly costume and name that Animal man was stuck with.
What covers had an impact on you? Is there a certain one that stands out
for you? Let me know and maybe I will feature it in an upcoming issue.
While comics were once deemed as silly kid's stuff, it is covers like
this that prove that comics can be a medium to get across powerful
Villain of the Month
This month's villain is the ever deadly, Absorbing Man. Crusher Creel
began in the Thor comics (Journey into Mystery #114) where he went from
a lowly thug to a super powered being. With his ability to absorb the
properties of any substance he came in contact with, this proved to make
him both very deadly and very unpredictable.
More dangerous than his powers was his general lack of a conscience. He
really didn't care if innocent lives were lost. His personal gain was
all that mattered and he would stop at nothing to get what he wanted.
Crusher Creel battled Thor on numerous occasions and always gave his a
good battle. But the thunder god wasn't his only foe. He also battled
the Incredible Hulk on numerous occasions. He also locked horns with the
Avengers as well as some not so powerful heroes like Daredevil.
His biggest flaw and one that halted him too often was the very same
absorbing power. Too many times he was knocked into glass or something
and ended up absorbing its powers only to be defeated. While it was
clever at first, it later proved to be a crutch that too many writers
One of the reasons I chose him is that I just picked up his action
figure. I will occasionally buy action figures for my kids when I find
them on clearance and at $3.00, I couldn't pass him up. I would have
loved an action figure of the Absorbing Man as a youth, but we were
severely limited in the selection available.
To Be Young Again
Having grown up in an era of a handful of superhero toys (I am 32 years
old to give you an idea of the time frame), I am amazed and quite a bit
jealous of the selection available to children today. Characters I only
dreamed of ever having an action figure are now available and more are
popping up every day.
One walk down the aisles of the local toy store will be enough to make
me want to reverse the aging process. As I stare at the rows of heroes
and especially villains, I dream of the battle I could have. Characters
like the Rhino, Scorpion, Galactus, Sentinels, Manbat and more are like
dreams come true, only a bit too late. Even lesser characters that I
never dreamed would be molded into plastic are popping up with greater
frequency. Characters like Swarm, Absorbing Man, Zzzack and Poison Ivy
were characters I never dreamed would be available. The selection is
While I cannot turn back the aging process, I do have the ability to
relive the magic through the eyes of my children. While they are too
young to play with the figures now, I do occasionally buy a figure or
two when I find them cheap (and this happens with greater frequency). So
I have over the past few years, built up a large selection of heroes and
villains for them to enjoy in a few years. I only hope they enjoy
playing with them as much as I enjoy buying them. Maybe I will videotape
them opening all the toys and playing with them and show the tape to toy
collectors to watch them cringe as the near mint, carded figures are
opened and played with.
New on the Web Page
If you are reading this, you have obviously seen some of the
improvements done to the New Tomorrow's Heroes web page. Some are quite
subtle and others are more obvious. Here are a few of the new areas or
Comic Ads-Here is a section devoted to those
great commercials we all remember reading in the comic books. From the
bizarre to the fondly remembered ones. I have broken this down into five
There are a decent amount up right now, but look for more to be posted
in the coming months!
Thanks for your patience and look for Just Newsprint to return next
month, sometime in the first week! I will do my best to keep adding to
the web page and making it a place for comic fans to come and relive
some memories and make some new ones. Submissions are always accepted
for the newsletter and your feedback is greatly appreciated!