Having become known as something of a Silver-Age expert, I occasionally receive questions on the subject in my e-mail. Sometimes these e-mails raise a topic of interest that is worth mentioning in my Deck Log, such as this one from a total stranger . . . .
Dear Commander Benson,
It goes without saying that you write the cleverest, wittiest, most fascinating column on comics to be found on the Internet. I am in awe of your vast knowledge and expertise on the subject of the Silver Age. Waiting for your next Deck Log entry is sheer agony. I know there is no way to rush genius such as yours, but could you recommend other blogs with which I might pass the time until you post your next masterful effort?
Thank you, dear lady, for that completely unsolicited testimonial. Loyal fans like yourself are a constant inspiration.
Meanwhile, back in the real world, there are quite a few blogs which do what I do, or something similar, with the same kind of enthusiasm and dedication to accuracy. Many of their authors have been good enough to give my Deck Log a shout-out and it’s about time that I returned the favour. Whether you’re a Silver-Age fan or not, they’re definitely worth checking out.
Of course, I have to lead off with this one, particularly since it’s maintained by one of our own Legionnaires, Pat Curley. Silver Age Comics covers the same material that I do, but Pat’s perspective has a bit more modern sensibility to it. A good indicator of how much I enjoy a blog is how much time I am willing to spend going through its archives, and I have read all of Pat’s---five years’ worth and some six-hundred-plus articles.
His current entry is a review of Jimmy Olsen # 94 (Jul., 1966), an issue chock full of the things which made the adventures of Superman’s Pal such groaners to read, most of the time. But then, even we die-hard Silver-Age fans never claimed that they were all gems back in the day. This particular period in the title suffers even more from the departure of Curt Swan as a regular artist, to be replaced by Pete Constanza. As I have mentioned before, the detailed, pristine art of Swan and inker George Klein had a way of making even the most inane tales more credulous. Never was it more so true than when it came to Jimmy Olsen, and any Olsen story not drawn by them suffers a real hit alpha.
Pat doesn’t shy away from the warts in this issue, either. But even his spot-on criticisms are delivered in an entertaining, engaging style.
As you’ve probably gathered, SupermanFan.Net covers all things Man of Steel-related, be it comics, television, film, or animation. While its author, Nightwing, doesn’t restrict himself to one era, many of his entries give the Silver-Age Superman a good scrubbing, sometimes in a light-hearted vein. That, and the fact that his opinion of Lois Lane is the same as mine (proving that he is a most perceptive fellow), makes me a regular follower.
Right now, he’s treating his readers to some of the letters and editor’s replies that appeared in Mort Weisinger’s Superman family of magazines. (For those of you too young to know, there was a time when people sent messages written on paper which were hand-carried to their recipients by a department of the federal government, and some of these would actually be published in the comics themselves. Pardon me while I take my daily slug of Geritol.)
It reminds me of how eagerly we Silver-Age readers looked forward to reading the thoughts of the fortunate correspondents whose letters were selected for publishing. There were a handful of letter writers whose names cropped up repeatedly---Guy H. Lillian III, Irene Vartanoff, Martin Pasko, Elizabeth Kane, and Kenneth Ahlstrand, among others. Not surprisingly, their commentaries were incisive, thoughtful, and well written. There were more than a few occasions when their letters proved more enjoyable than the stories in the magazine in which they appeared.
In those pre-Internet-forum days, it was the closest thing to being interactive with other fans, even if for most of us, it was vicariously only. It was a major deal back then to get one of your letters published. It entitled you to bragging rights for at least the month that the issue with your name in it came out. I was lucky enough to see five of my letters hit print, and even some forty years later with (hopefully) greater accomplishments to my name, I still have those five comics kept separately.
If there were such a thing as a doctorate in the Martian Manhunter, Frank Lee Delano would have it. If it involves J’onn J’onzz in any way, shape, or form, it’s there someplace in his blog, the Idol-Head of Diabolu. Years ago, Frank was gracious enough to ask my permission to use, for his blog, some posts I had made in another venue. He returned the favour when I needed, in my pre-scanner days, specific art for Deck Log entries on the Manhunter. Frank provided just the stuff I required.
Most of the Idol-Head of Diabolu’s material is post-Crisis J’onn J’onzz, but it dips back into the Silver Age often enough for me to check in regularly. His information is staggeringly comprehensive. I suspect if Joe Certa ever doodled the Manhunter on a paper napkin during lunch, Frank has posted a JPEG of it somewhere on his site.
Mark Engblom retired his Comic Coverage blog back in September of last year, and comics fans are the poorer for it. I discovered it only a few weeks ago and am still going through three years’ worth of archives. Comic Coverage is the standard to which every comics-related blog should aspire. There are long, serious pieces, filled with well-researched information, and shorter, light-hearted looks at some of the more absurd conventions of comics. A distinctive feature of his blog is his evaluations of the best and the worst of comic-book covers, drawn from his long experience as a professional artist himself.
Like some of the other blogs I’ve mentioned, Mark doesn’t confine himself to one comics era but, again like the others, he finds plenty in the Silver Age to talk about.
Finally, it would be a blunder of the highest order if I failed to mention Craig Shutt, Mr. Silver Age, who recently became a member of our merry band of Superfluous Heroes. The fulsome praise of Mrs.---ahem---“Smith” notwithstanding, while I may be a talented amateur, Craig is the real deal.
There’s a reason why he is called “Mr. Silver Age”. The depth and breadth of his knowledge encompasses the entire output from that era, not just the easy stuff like super-hero comics and war comics. He is versed in the genres I wouldn’t have touched with a stick, like romance comics and literary comics, as well. Craig is my greatest source of what the fellows in the spy business call “human intelligence”. He has come to my rescue more than once when I was stuck for a reference or the details behind a story event.
Since June of 1993, his Ask Mr. Silver Age column has entertained Comics Buyer’s Guide readers with his witty, informative articles on the elements which comprised that particular era. Few other sections of CBG generate as much debate and discussion from its audience. Always, Craig’s evaluations on a topic are measured and well reasoned. I know this both from his column and my own e-mail discussions with him.
If you aren’t a reader of Comics Buyer’s Guide, you can still enjoy the fruits of Craig’s knowledge at the magazine’s on-line incarnation, CBGXtra.com. Just look for his name under “Columnists” and enjoy. And if you’ve a mind to, jump into the discussions. (And just to give our fearless leader a plug, you might also check out the Captain Comics forum there, too.)
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