In a sidebar to my December CBG column on good reading for Silver Age fans in 2010, I suggested five collections that I wanted to see in 2011. Amazingly enough, between the time I wrote the column and it was published, TWO of those collections (Sugar & Spike and SSOSV) were announced!
That’s a pretty good average, and it indicates either that the publishers are listening to their readers or we all agree on where the gaps are (and that most of the low-hanging fruit has long been picked). So what other collections do we still need?
Long-time AMSA fan Tom DeWitt suggested a few to me in an e-mail, leading me to add a few more to my own list. Here’s what would be coming soon, if I were in charge:
Essential Sgt. Fury #1: This lapse stands out more every day. Jack Kirby and a key Silver Age Marvel comic unreprinted? Houston, we have a problem.
Essential Not Brand Echh: Virtually timeless and hilarious, especially when the writers and artists parody their own comics. What’s the hold up here? Are they afraid DC will complain?
Go-Go Archives: Charlton’s groovy 1966 series starring Miss Bikini Luv (on which Jim Aparo made his comics debut in #6) is little seen and pricey when it does show up. It’s crying to be reprinted! At least, I’m crying that it hasn’t been.
Scribbly Archives: Once that S&S volume takes off, they’ll no doubt want to get more of Mayer’s work into print. This would be my A #1 way to go. It’s hilarious stuff with excellent art. It’s truly a long shot, but considering some of the oddball stuff that Marvel is putting out from approximately this same time period, this would be a great one for DC to try.
Capt. Savage & His Leatherneck Raiders and Combat Kelley & His Deadly Dozen: I have to admit, as I was not a major War fan back in the day, I’m not too familiar with either of these. But that’s a good reason to get them out there now, as I’d definitely be curious enough to buy a b&w collection of either.
Mark Marlin: It was not my suggestion, but we all know it’s just a matter of time.
Essential Westerns. Likewise, I was not much interested in the Rawhide Kid Masterworks collection, as it was too little bang for the buck, IMO—and apparently others agreed, as no more have followed. But as Essential volumes, I’d buy Kid Colt, Rawhide and Two-Gun for sure. There are other shorter-run westerns that might make up a good collection after these run their course, too.
Brave & Bold also-rans: We’ve mentioned this one before on the AMSA board. I’m not sure how you position it, but we all know the issues we’re talking about here: the ones that weren’t popular enough to get their own series and seldom get reprinted as a result. Heck, they’d have several volumes worth of Viking Prince, Robin Hood, Suicide Squad, etc. to print in succession before they even had to start leaving out anything when the JLA arrived in #28. Maybe they could run the covers to those issues and continue with Cave Carson, more Suicide Squad and Strange Sports Stories. I think those would be great volumes. But what do you call it? The Worst of Brave & Bold?
Rip Hunter: I’m surprised this one hasn’t already been produced, considering he has some name recognition. The Sea Devils is a more iffy proposition but falls into the same category, no doubt. They both have the same demographic make-up as most adventure teams back then, but they are unlike any other comics from that time and deserve some time in the sun.
1950s Batman: It’s a shame that the collections began with the “New Look” stories, which is so late into the Silver Age, but it’s understandable that those show the most recognizable Batman. Even so, all those wacky 1950s stories deserve to be reprinted, if only because so many fewer of them have ever been reprinted. And it’s apparent that the Archives will never get there.
All of those gorgeous comic reprints cost money to produce, especially if they have to work from actual printed material. If they already have b&w clean material it still costs money, just not as much
Sure, but the fact that they have that clean material indicates those have already been reprinted, sometimes multiple times. It seems to be a risk to keep reprinting the same material when so many people already own collections or can get those earlier ones cheap in used form.
NBE might not be published due to the use of other company’s characters, even though they’d be fair use. But there are lots and lots of 1950s Superman and Batman stories that have never been reprinted EVER that I would think would be worth investing in for reprints, given that you could then reprint them multiple times and spread out the prep costs. That'd seem a better way to go than reprinting the same old SA stuff again.
I wonder how they make those assessments that the market isn’t there? Or do they just not want to spend the upfront prep money with no assurance they'd recoup it all on the first try?
The first thing that pops into my head is still the short lived series like Star Hunters and Rima the Jungle Girl.
The title needs to make a good-sized package, which can impact short-run series if there aren't enough. Star Hunters might, though. They also need to have reasonable royalty contracts that will pay off even if they don’t sell well. Something like Star Hunters may not fit those parameters.
Somewhere in the 1970s they instituted a new plan that precluded any collections in the SP volumes. I'm not sure if their new formats make it as unprofitable, but they don't seem to be doing much there even though the audience should be primed for late-1970s reprints.
Otherwise, I'm still hoping for more inexpensive versions of previous collections.
A number of collections seem to go to a HC version then a TPB, but there aren’t many inexpensive collections being put out that I know of. The days of Essentials and SPs seem to be behind us--and lots of people didn't like what they had to give up to get them cheap anyway.
Thankfully, every once in a while the Kindle version of some collections go on sale and I'm able to read past books that way, but it's always Marvels. No sign of DC temporarily lowering their prices on anything.
Marvel got into big trouble with retailers for putting out 99-cent collections through Comixology and Amazon (who are related). I think Comixology has stopped it, but Amazon still runs some. I don’t think DC wants to wade into that.
Yet I still wish Marvel's collections would include the reprints as well as the new material when gathering the old Giant Sizes, Annuals, and Magazines into their respective volumes.
Whereas I’m sure others don’t want to pay the price to get another copy of a story they may have many other reprints of. I see that it’s not actually a complete reprint, but I also see the desire to pack in more new material people haven’t seen to get them to buy it.
Is the rarity of some hardcover volumes because they had fewer initial orders and therefore tiny print runs?
Not necessarily, they could have been the most popular. It undoubtedly means retailers underestimated the demand, at whatever level it was.
At some point, I'd think they might consider doing a second edition, but I don't know when it reaches that point. It took them a long time to do that with Masterworks, and some of the first editions got really expensive, which is crazy.
Did you somehow miss this collection when it came out three years ago?
Mr. Silver Age said:
NBE might not be published due to the use of other company’s characters, even though they’d be fair use.
Thanks Hoy! I don't know that I missed it, but I definitely forgot it was out.
I'll have to check around for it. I've got all the issues, but having them on the shelf rather than buried in a box would be nice if I could find it at a reasonable cost. I thought it was by far the best parody comic (outside of Mad).
That's the other irony of these lists sometimes. When we say "I'd like this to be collected," it could be because we think it should be on library shelves for posterity or other collectors should get the thing we liked so much or we want it collected really, really cheaply, which is never the way they do them.
And then in some cases, we seem to be the only people who want a book, or at least it seems like it. I point to the one volume of the Sugar & Spike Archives as an example. I'm sorry that didn't continue, but I've got to think it was due to sales. SP volumes no doubt would've done better, but probably wouldn't have made the profit after the production work.
Also, that one Golden Age Blackhawk Archive collection. Maybe that will change if the movie becomes reality, but I never did see much demand for that title by post-Silver Age readers, and I imagine the cost of reconstructing the art made it too prohibitive to do more with sales so low.
Mr. Silver Age said:
I point to the one volume of the Sugar & Spike Archives as an example. I'm sorry that didn't continue, but I've got to think it was due to sales. SP volumes no doubt would've done better, but probably wouldn't have made the profit after the production work.