I recently finished reading Fredric Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent for the first time and found myself in need of a little mental palate-cleansing. I first turned to The Great Comic Book Heroes by Jules Feiffer for the third time... sort of. That book was originally published in 1965, but I always think ot it as a mid-seventies thing because I received my copy for my tenth birthday. The book comprises text in the front, comics in the back. I made a really good effort when I was ten to read through the text, but I felt an almost physical tug from those brightly-colored Golden Age classics pulling me to the back of the book. I tried reading a chapter at a time but, frankly, ending up skimming them more than giving them a deep read. I did read enough of the Superman chapter to realize that Feiffer was pretty much full of $#!t when it came to his philosophy of superheroes (and was dismayed, decades later, when that philosophy was carried over into a popular film) but, apart from that, his book is written with such a joie de vie for comics that it makes a perfect counterpoint to Wertham's bleak Seduction of the Innocent.

The Great Comic Book Heroes was reissued in the early 2Ks (I think it was), but without the comics. I took that opportunity to "re-read it for the first time." But I didn't buy a new edition; I read my HC, in-depth for the first time, but was able to resist the temptation of the comics in the back (which I did read many, many times over in my youth and since). So this was my third time through (or second, depending on your point of view). I enjoyed it immensely, but it is very short and I found myself in need of more "mental palate-cleansing."

That realization led me to All in Color for a Dime, the 1970 collection of fanzine articles edited by Dick Lupoff and Don Thompson. Like Seduction of the Innocent, All in Color for a Dime has achieved nigh-legendary status (in certain circles). Also like SOTI, it had been out of print and difficult to obtain for a number of years. When it was reissued in 1997 I snatched it right up... then let it sit on the shelf for 25 years. I read one chapter per day of SOTI and posted my thoughts as I went along. AICFAD comprises eleven essays so, for the next week and a half, I plan to read and post my thoughts on one essay per day.

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In the original comics, the 25th Century was dominated by the Mongol Empire.  Later World War Two era strips featured Monkey Men who were devolved Japanese people who had escaped into space at the end of the war.

Philip Portelli said:

I never had the opportunity though I do have six volumes of the Hermes Press Flash Gordon collections.

Thankfully the Buck serial was toned down. There was even an Asian actor in the cast. Yes, he was dressed silly but they all were! 

Yes, the "Yellow Peril" was sadly prevalent when Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon started, made even worse by War Propaganda. However, in the serial, Killer Kane took over most of the Earth with his fellow "super-racketeers", not the Mongols. 

"I've seen the Flash Gordon serial, never seen the Buck Rogers one."

Flash Gordon serials (plural). 

Flash Gordon (1936) - 13 episodes

Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars (1938) - 15 episodes

Flash Gordon Conquers the Universe (1940) - 12 episodes

In his chapter, Steinbrunner comes right out and refers to the original one as "far and away the best serial ever made."  Sometimes the serials do blend together in my mind, and some of theme were quite cheap. Universal, however, spent $350,000 on Flash Gordon; in some cities it was billed ahead of the feature; and it was the only serial ever to be reviewed by Time magazine (and favorably, at that). So far I've re-watched the first two chapters and I'll be damned if Steinbrunner wasn't right. Perhaps none of them are impressive by today's standards, but if you can manage to see it with "yesterday's eyes," you should be impressed. 

"Ever read the original Buck Rogers comic strips from the the late 1920's and early 30's?"

Because we live in a New Golden Age, here is what's available, all from Hermes Press:

Eight volumes of dailies covering 1929-1941

Three volumes of full-size Sundays covering 1930-1940

A single volume of full-size Sundays by Murphy Anderson, 1958-1959

A single volume of dailies and Sundays (spun off from the TV show) covering 1978-1979

"I do have six volumes of the Hermes Press Flash Gordon collections."

Did Hermes do Flash Gordon, too? Here are the Flash Gordon collections I have on my shelf.

Six volumes of complete Alex Raymond Sundays from Kitchen Sink Press

Four volumes of complete, full-size Alex Raymond Sundays (including Jungle Jim) from IDW

Plus Dark Horse released five volumes of Flash Gordon comic books.

Titan Comics also released a full set of Alex Raymond Sundays, which continues into five various other volumes.

Oh, Dark Horse did four volumes of Mac Rayboy Sundays as well, but they're softcover b&w

My six KSP volumes were duplicated by the IDW volumes. They take up 3 1/2 inches of shelf space.

"Now I'll have to see if my LCS has [Walt Kelly's Our Gang] in stock."

My LCS had all four volumes in stock (because my LCS is awesome) and I bought the first today.

My mistake! I double-checked my Flash Gordon books and they're NOT by Hermes Press but by Checker Book Publishing.

Ah, yes. I do remember those. I gave them a pass because they duplicated by KSP set (which I ended up duplicating, anyway). 

9. "Captain Billy's Whiz Gang!" by Roy Thomas

Roy Thomas's chapter deals with all the other Fawcett heroes who weren't Captain Marvel, including Bulletman, Master Man, Minute Man, Mr. Scarlet, Captain Midnight, Spy Smasher, Phantom Eagle, Commando Yank and Ibis among others. I don't have a strong connection to Fawcett's "Whiz Gang" because so few of their adventures have been reprinted. I'm sure many reading this post will recall fondly Alan Light's Flashback series (a.k.a. Special Edition Reprints) of the early '70s (right around the time of the publication of All In Color For a Dime, come to think of it). For those of you unfamiliar with this series, they Golden Age-size reprints of Golden Age comics, with cardstock covers and b&w interiors. I do have quite a few of those, including Ibis #1, Spy Smasher #1, Captain Midnight #1 and Master Comics #21. More recently, PS Artbooks has reprinted Fawcett's last title, Captain Video, in HC archival format.

I vividly recall seeing the Fawcett heroes in Justice League of America #135-137 (O-D'76) and thought that they were a dull bunch. Bulletman & Bulletgirl weren't bad, Ibis looked very dour, Spy Smasher had a cool name and outfit, and Mister Scarlet & Pinky were just a low rent Batman & Robin. 

Minute Man showed in an issue of SHAZAM! and was just as underwhelming.

The sad truth is this:  A lot of Golden Age super-heroes really weren't that good.

Philip Portelli said:

I vividly recall seeing the Fawcett heroes in Justice League of America #135-137 (O-D'76) and thought that they were a dull bunch. Bulletman & Bulletgirl weren't bad, Ibis looked very dour, Spy Smasher had a cool name and outfit, and Mister Scarlet & Pinky were just a low rent Batman & Robin. 

Minute Man showed in an issue of SHAZAM! and was just as underwhelming.

"A lot of Golden Age super-heroes really weren't that good."

Sturgeon's law applies. 

Jeff of Earth-J said:

I'm sure many reading this post will recall fondly Alan Light's Flashback series (a.k.a. Special Edition Reprints) of the early '70s (right around the time of the publication of All In Color For a Dime, come to think of it).

Your mention of Alan Light reminds me that he started The Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom, which later became The Comic Buyer’s Guide. The thing that sticks in my mind about Alan is that at one point he said he was unhappy with subscribers who only bought it for the articles and wished they would leave.

Richard Willis said:

Your mention of Alan Light reminds me that he started The Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom, which later became The Comic Buyer’s Guide. The thing that sticks in my mind about Alan is that at one point he said he was unhappy with subscribers who only bought it for the articles and wished they would leave.

If people didn't want The Comic Buyer's Guide for the articles, why should they want it?

"If people didn't want The Comic Buyer's Guide for the articles, why should they want it?"

For the ads.

10. "The Second Banana Heroes" by Ron Goulart

As with Roy Thomas's chapter, Ron Goulart gives an entire paragraph to some of these characters; others he only mentions. A partial list of those he covers follows. (Are you ready?) Blue Bolt, Sub-Zero Man, Blackout, Vapo-man, the Human Bomb, Hydroman, Man O'Metal, the Human Top, the Whizzer, the Shield, the Firefly, the Target, Wonder Boy, Chameleon, Amazing Man, Black Marvel, Angel, Patriot, Doc Strange, Black Condor, Catman, White Streak, Bombshell, Blazing Skull, Daredevil, Silver Streak, Blue Blaze, Dynamic Man, Super Slave, the Black Widow, the Terror, Moonman, the Phantom Bullet, the Thunderer, the Fin, Blue Diamond, the Masked Marvel, Air Man, the Eye, Fantoman, Super Spy, Mighty Man, Minimidget, Iron Skull, the Shark, Phantasmo, Mirror Man, Iron Vic, Boomerang, Captain Truth, the Black Cobra, Captain Combat, Yankee Boy, the Green Turtle, Professor Supermind & Son, the Voice, Lady Fairplay, Steelfist, Shock Gibson, Pyroman, the Magnet, Kangarooman, Airboy, the Great Zarno, Power Man, the Blue Streak, Atomic Man, Red Rogue, the Green Lama, Golden Lad and Atoman, Whew!

Many of these have been reprinted in various collections too numerous to list here. A surprising number have been revived in the present day. Craig Yoe (a.k.a. "the Indiana Jones of comics historians") has reprinted two volumes of Super-Weird Heroes, and quite of few of the ones from Goulart's chapter can be found there. In addition, see Jon Morris's The League of Regrettable Heroes and The League of Regrettable Sidekicks. Ron Goulart also covered several patriotic heroes (Minute Man, Pat Patriot, the Spirit of '76, Major Victory, Captain Fearless, Miss Victory and Citizen Smith), Many of which can be found in Yoe Books' Super-Patriotic Heroes. Goulart also covered the villains, and Jon Morris has a book of those as well: The Legion of Regrettable Super Villains

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