Johnny Comet is a fascinating failure. It is the first of two (so far) volumes in the Vangard Classics: Frank Frazetta series. Frazetta’s Johnny Comet line work is exquisite, but the “stories” exist only as a framework upon which to hang the gorgeous art. For an action/adventure strip, a lot of it occurs in slow motion. For example, Johnny is a midget race car driver, and a crash at the track will often take a week’s worth of dailies to portray. In order to present the strips in the largest size possible (plus), the publisher decided to present them vertically (minus). The female lead in the strip (I hesitate to call her Johnny’s girlfriend) is a real dish. She hangs all over him, but Johnny is a completely oblivious. This volume would make the perfect gift for any gay male comics fans one might have on his or her shopping list.

The syndicate knew the strip was in trouble. At one point toward the end of it’s just-over-a-year-long run, Johnny went to Hollywood to become a stuntman, and his manager had him change his name to “Ace McCoy” because (get this) “Johnny Comet” wasn’t flashy enough! Johnny had his name legally changed, and after the Hollywood storyline was over, the name of the strip itself changed to Ace McCoy, and they brought in a new writer! Frazetta was frustrated that the strip he put so much of himself into wasn’t more popular, but the new writer brought too little to the strip too late in its run.

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