I was going through this week’s “heading to eBay auction” pile and was having fun looking through stacks of Jiggs and Maggie, Nancy and Sluggy, Black Hood, Steel Sterling and other cool and obscure characters of yesterday. It dawned on me just how many characters have come and gone in the ninety years of comic book (modern format) history. Is it safe to say there are more long-forgotten comic book characters than there are in current circulation? What would it take to resurrect some of these? I remember three or four years ago Marvel tried to revive the old Timely characters Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal; I’m pretty sure the project was a dud. How can you know what old characters might just need a little dusting off, a little updating of the wardrobe and haircut, and a little nudge back into the limelight?
I know the guys at Comic House have taken on the old Lev Greason stable of characters. I wish I’d known I would write about this a week ago rather than a minute ago, I’d have contacted them and asked them how things were going. Can anyone come up with good examples of an old and forgotten character being brought back to literary life through comic books? I’m not talking Guardians of the Galaxy, I’m talking Silly Seal.
I’m just broaching the topic to get us thinking of all that has come before and somehow faltered and disappeared and realizing that a good portion of the characters we know and love today will meet a similar fate.
Happy President’s Day to our US neighbours; up here in Ontario it’s Family Day so I thought I’d honour the day with a tribute to married life. Such a great sight gag on the cover of Jiggs and Maggie #16. It’s obvious to me that the Tiger is married too…
Our Spash of the week comes from Red Circle’s Black Hood #2, a backup feature called the Fox was drawn by the great Alex Toth. This piece has a certain easy style to it; the whole thing just works visually.
I had to leaf through Tip Top #174 from 1952 to find this little gem of an ad. The top ad is for Double Bubble chewing gum. When I saw the ad I immediately harked back to an episode on Comic Culture that’s at least 10 years old: this is the episode I got Chris good, he could not stop laughing and never really gained his composure after my little joke. Around the time the movie Battleship hit the theatres I did a bit where I told Chris a list of other old pop culture products being considered for new movies. Among them was Double Bubble, a film about two coeds that blew their way through college… mic drop. Did you know Double Bubble goes way back to 1928? Think of all the degrees this gum has helped earn.
This week’s icecollectibles eBay auction had some interesting results. I paid extra attention to Archie Comics #27: our copy being a CGC 5.5, I wanted to see how it did because we’ve been discussing Romance books versus Humor versus Good Girl Art. The book closed at $252.60 USD: back in November a CGC 6.0 sold for $308 which puts our sale on par and more importantly indicated a bit of stability in the market.
That Toth splash is super ! This is part of a revival of Archie super-heroes that appeared in the mid-eighties and although it did not last too long, actually produced some nice work. I tried to comment on these a couple posts back when you guys had brought up THE MIGHTY CRUSADERS & how poor they were back in the sixties…but I could not post my comment due to NONCE VERIFICATION errors and gave up. Maybe I should try to post that comment again now…
The Mighty Crusaders series from the 1960’s was pretty lame- that’s why it only lasted seven issues. Most of the Archie superhero comics from this time period are pretty sad & once you get past the few early issues of Shield & The Fly that have some Kirby work in them, there is nothing to discuss. However, Archie did bring back all or most of their superheroes for another try in 1983-85 and this time I think they did much better- Mighty Crusaders, Steel Sterling, Shield, Fly & Black Hood re-appeared on the stands and actually presented some decent work! My favourite titles were Black Hood [ all three issues featured work by ALEX TOTH!] & Blue Ribbon Comics which was kind of a showcase title ranging from classic Jack Kirby Shield reprints to new work by Steve Ditko on The Fly. Ditko also did a lot of work on ‘Adventures of the Fly’ and the covers to the first two issues were by STERANKO. If you like Rich Buckler’s work, you will be impressed by the amount of stuff that he did for many of these titles. Lots of good work on this group of books & it is worth while seeking them out. I remember buying many of them right off the newsstand back in the day, but can’t recall if I got them all. I suppose I’ll have to have another ‘dig’ in my basement & see what I can unearth!
I love the original Lev Gleason publications & have been collecting them solidly for the last many years and probably own at least 60% of their total output. Unfortunately, they have now been ‘discovered’ by the great, unwashed horde and are no longer cheap. Even [slabbed] mid-grade copies of BOY MEETS GIRL are fetching hundreds of dollars at auction- I was getting them raw for $5.00 each before covid!! Recent results at Heritage should make me happy, as I am now on my way to becoming a millionaire, yet somehow I fail to be cheered up by this revelation. These wonderful books were amongst the best written & drawn books of the Golden Age and pioneered a clean, detailed & precise method of storytelling [ see CRIME DOES NOT PAY, particularly the work of George Tuska] that no doubt inspired some of today’s great works, such as Moore’s & Gibbons WATCHMEN. Simply awesome stuff to experience-these stories still hold up to this day. Many of these stories are quite violent & some of the characters depicted are indeed scary, yet because they are drawn in such a clean, precise style, that violence seems somehow diminished- almost cartoony in it’s depiction. There was an attempt by DYNAMITE to bring back Daredevil as DEATH DEFYING DEVIL & they brought him up to ‘modern standards’, scary and dark, as are many of today’s superheroes and it left me cold. It was like taking a Bugs Bunny cartoon and making it live action and scary, without the humour. It did not work for me- I guess I’ve had my fill of ‘dark & scary’ superheroes & need something more.
Now COMIC HOUSE is taking a stab at some of these old characters. Taking a look at their website seems to indicate that they are trying to do more than just publish comic books, maybe getting into movies & gaming. I wish them well but will probably not follow their incarnation unless something major sucks me into their world. I am an old school comic book reader & I want my superheroes to be cardboard cut outs with only a whiff of personality. The way Kirby, Ditko & Lee did it works well for me! I want action, adventure & imagination in my superhero comic stories- I do NOT need to see Batman shaving. or Superman going to the washroom! I don’t want to see the Justice League planning a baby shower or the Legion of Superheroes going out for a picnic. I really could not give a fart about the ‘relationship’ between any two superheroes, this is NOT why I am reading comics. For me it is always about the action and adventure. It may be that writers today cannot write action any more- everything that could possibly be done in superhero comics has been done by now- what new slant can possibly be offered??- thus we get ‘stories’ thrown at us month after month focusing on some heroes relationship with his girlfriend, his boyfriend, his mother, his worst villain or his sidekick or butler! Yawn- not for me folks. Superhero comics are well past their expiration date and are simply treading water. If it wasn’t for the current crop of movies keeping them afloat, they would be in trouble. I look at the COMIC HOUSE website & nothing draws me in. I will probably thus focus my energies to enjoying Lev Gleason books the way they were originally presented and ignore the new product….unless something really massive happens in their world! Sorry to be a downer- I am an old fart & I know what I like !
I tried “Death Defying Daredevil” also and agree with Life Frog, it left me cold. Nothing deep or thoughtful there.
My business tried to start things going with Comic House to sell their books for them, but they completely ignored us. Discounts to dealers from Diamond are not particularly attractive, and sometimes reorders are impossible, so we usually try to work direct with publishers. I think we even tried a title or two from Diamond but then never got any, I guess they got delayed. So I gave up looking at their offerings, even the reprint books.
So, just to get things straight, when you guys are talking about “Comic House” you really mean Chapterhouse don’t you? They’re the guys who bought the rights to the Lev Gleason material for their rebranding, I think. Just checking.
It looks like Chapterhouse became Comic House and are publishing a number of Lev Gleason properties, plus Captain Canuck & Freelance to boot. I wish ’em well and will throw a glance their way once in a while, but have not been too excited by what I have seen so far.
It is difficult to re-establish long dead Golden Age characters/titles into the modern era- many of these old properties deserve to be left alone, firmly frozen in a distant time and place by the manner of their art & story [ in some cases featuring ‘politically incorrect’ material that some modern readers will find offensive]. There was a recent attempt to revive JUNGLE COMICS and EXCITING COMICS by Antarctic Press and it was just plain awful. JUNGLE COMICS is simply not Jungle Comics without Sheena or Kaanga fighting a cannibal witch-doctor!- but you simply can’t print this kind of stuff nowadays!!! The Antarctic Jungle comics was just a poor excuse to show badly drawn females draped in leopard-skin bikinis loitering about in the jungle and hanging off tree branches- there was really no point for this revival to exist- they accomplished nothing with their efforts !! Let’s face it folks- one of the reasons why we love the pre-code stuff so much is due to the un-fettered imagination that comic creators back then were able to pour into their work, INCLUDING volumes of material that is simply not considered acceptable by our modern society. I am not suggesting that we go back to publishing material of a socially unacceptable nature in order to bring a dead title or character back into the modern age, but in order for such a revival to work, it has to offer something that will catch a modern reader’s attention and hold it securely. I’ve not seen it happen yet.
What would you expect Sheena or Kaanga to safely accomplish in our modern world?? What would they do that would hold your interest ?? They could fight poachers killing off elephants or rhinos. or take on corporations that are destroying the jungles [ as they are being destroyed currently in the Amazon ] or polluting the environment. How long could you stomach reading these kinds of stories ?? On the other hand, Kaanga could join the Government Forces in the Central African Republic [CAR] and fight Wagner Group mercenaries in Sub-Saharan Africa !! Hey, I would like to read that !!- in fact, I would buy two copies of every issue if they publish such a thing !!
Why aren’t more of our heroes fighting Russian forces & The Wagner Group mercenaries in Ukraine ?? Are they all chicken ?? Where is Captain America when you need him ?? Wouldn’t you love to see an Alex Schomburg cover on the next Captain America comic showing Cap slugging Ramzan Kadyrov in the face ??!! Why is Marvel not publishing war propaganda comics at this time ?? Is our society no longer accepting such imagery ?? Is it because we are not formally at war [special military operation] with Russia ??
I can see it now- the latest revival of a classic golden age title- Marvel brings back WAR COMICS !! The cover story- “I STOPPED A WAGNER BAYONET CHARGE WITH A SINGLE DRONE STRIKE!” [art by Rob Liefeld & Sal Buscema]
Correction !- Kaanga should join the REBEL troops in the Central African Republic [CAR] who are fighting the Russian-backed Government forces, alongside Wagner troops! Gah, this is so confusing ! I need a comic book to explain all this stuff to me !!! Where is Frank Miller when you need him ???
So…Chapterhouse, Comic House, and then Lev Gleason. Chapterhouse lost me when they put out their own imprint of the Johnny Canuck series at a time when I was buying remaindered issues of Rachel Richey’s book for five bucks a piece!!! Way to lose money! Then they put out that unbelievably bad Freelance knock-off! I never quite got the sense that they even knew what they were doing. They seemed to be just stumbling around bleeding cash.