What is missing in 'The Golden Age of Reprints'?

Anyone who reads my stuff (or that of Jeff of Earth-J) has heard the phrase "Golden Age of Reprints."

Because it is. I've been collecting comics since 1963, and for many decades finding a reprint from before the Silver Age was hard to come by. I have many hundreds of those reprints, of course, from a variety of venues, like Fantasy Masterpieces or DC Super Specials. But there are hundreds of thousands of stories from before (say) 1960 that the Young Cap'n, the Young Adult Cap'n, and now the Middle-Age Cap'n simply had no way to read. Even the crappy back issues of oddball comics still cost too much to buy.

This was so distressing to the 1963 Captain that he actually wept when he saw the (high) issue number of certain copy of an 80-Page Giant Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen. (True story.) How could I read everything that I needed to read? How could I collect what I needed to collect? How could I be knowledgeable in this field, when there was so much denied to me?

But now, so much has become available. My collection of '60s Gold Key is spotty, and I was never going to fill in the blanks, especially when the price of a back issue of Doctor Solar Man Of The Atom always kept pace with a car payment. But here comes Dark Horse, which has not only collected every superhero comic Gold Key ever published, but also every superhero comic ACG ever did! And the Archives editions of those series cost as much as a SINGLE back issue. Bliss!

Then there's all the non-superhero stuff which -- before the Silver Age -- was the overwhelming bulk of American comics. There is tons of this stuff, which I'd never read. But now I'm getting to read it. By the Spork of Odin, it's wonderful!

But what about what's missing? From my own perspective, there's plenty of stuff that's not published yet, or may never be published. Where is it? I'm not getting any younger, you know. Let's have it!

So here's an off-the-cuff list of things I want reprinted that I haven't seen yet. And I want to hear from each of you what YOU want reprinted, and haven't seen yet.

Here's my list (again, off the cuff):

* 1950s Superman, Wonder Woman and Batman: Yeah, these characters are getting reprinted like crazy these days, and I'm grateful for that. But the Archives/Showcase/Chronology books for all three characters are lapping each other, and not covering any new ground. All are working on two tracks: Early stuff, starting with the debut of the characters, and Silver Age to present. In all three cases, the early stuff has only hit about 1946, and the Silver Age starts in 1958 (or in Batman's case, 1964). There's this huge gap between 1947 to 1957 that I haven't read, from Action, Batman, Detective, Sensation, Superman, Wonder Woman and World's Finest. For God's sake, reprint those books before I retire!

* Jughead Archives: Dark Horse says it's going to start reprinting all Archie material from 1941 to present. Cool. However, I haven't seen any of those books. And Archie and Dynamite are doing "Best of" and holiday collections. And that's cool, too. But there's a lot of other Archie material I want to see: The Collected Bob Montana. The Collected Dan DeCarlo. And the Jughead Guy.

Who? Well, I used to collect Jughead in the 1960s and '70s, specifically because of the writer/artist on the material. Who was he? I don't know. No credits. And I never saw him on any other Archie titles, and he disappeared around 1985. But I sold my Jugheads and I want to see that guy's work again. C'mon, dudes, reprint 1970s Jughead!

* Crime Does Not Pay: One of the most famous and pivotal comic books of all time, and I have not read a single issue.

* Romance Comics: Not just the Simon/Kirby stuff. Give me a whole run of something, so I can see how the genre changed, and which writers and artists came and went. Think of it: There's tons of Buscema, Romita and Infantino stuff out there. Bring it on!

OK, that's just a taste of what I want. (Yes, Mrs. Captain, I DO want to own every comic book ever published!) But what would YOU guys like to see? Sound off, and maybe we can find a consensus and push for something. Who knows? Just a decade ago I wouldn't have given odds on Mighty Samson getting reprinted, but here it comes!

Views: 310

Comment by Captain Comics on March 28, 2010 at 5:00pm
Rob, this Samm Schwartz fella must be my "Jughead Guy." And Figs, he did stand out from the other Archie artists -- it's been a while, so I don't remember particulars, but he was very distinctive. And the Wiki article Rob links to suggests why: He preceded Dan DeCarlo, whose style was the Archie house style in my youth. And, as much as love DeCarlo's work, seeing lesser artists ape it got tiresome (none of them, of course, could be as good at being DeCarlo as DeCarlo was, so I don't really fault them). Schwartz, by contrast, was doing his own thing and clearly stood out. I'm sure he made some curtsies in the general direction of the house style to remain employed, but he learned his craft in the early '40s when Bob Montana's style was the Archie line's house style, and that kind of thing is hard to unlearn -- even should he be inclined to, which he probably wasn't.

And I'm with you, Figs, on Superboy -- and there's good news on that front! Amazon is listing The Aventures of Superboy Book One, which reprints Superboy stories from the inception of his solo series in More Fun Comics #101 chronologically through Adventure Comics #121. Interestingly, it is NOT in the Archives format, although it is a hardback. Also, it's been bumped back on the schedule a couple of times, and is now listed as an August release. These two things lead me to believe that there's still some friction with the Siegel/Shuster heirs, but it does seem like Superboy reprints are finally going to happen.

While I was looking up the details on Amazon for this post, I also noticed two more books I didn't know were coming that excite me: The complete Atomic Knights (May) and the complete Viking Prince (July). Boy, they know just where to tickle me, don't they?

Jeff, our tastes are remarkably aligned, so I agree with all your suggestions. I grew impatient with the slow pace of Superman: Man of Tomorrow as well, but fortunately the Showcase Presents: Superman has NOT been so sluggish. That series begins with the same issue S:MOT does, Action Comics #241, June 1958 (widely considered the beginning of the Silver Age Superman, for those who didn't know). It contains the Superman stories from Action and Superman chronologically (omitting the Supergirl stories, which have their own Showcase Presents, which is weird when a cover included in the Showcase Presents: Superman depicts a Supergirl story which isn't there). It's up to volume 4, mid-1964, the heart of the Swan/George Klein era, which is terrific stuff. If the series continues, it should hit Swanderson soon enough.

Speaking of sluggish series, both the World's Finest Archives and Showcases seem to have stalled. This is very frustrating, because they are very close to reprinting every WFC Batman or Superman story I haven't read!

My World's Finest collection begins around #115, and is complete from #139 on. The World's Finest Archives begins with the first Superman/Batman team-up (Superman #76, Jul-Aug 52) and the first WFC team-up (WFC #71, Jul-Aug) and runs through (in volume three) #116. One more volume, and it should catch up with my own complete collection at #139 -- so hurry up, DC! (Actually, the Showcase Presents: World's Finest series begins at the same place the Archives does, and moves much rapidly at 500 pages a clip, and has already caught up and passed issue #139. But I would like to see those stories in color.)

Meanwhile, the solo Superman and Batman stories in World's Fair/World's Best/World's Finest from 1939 to 1952 are also being reprinted in Archives: Superman in World's Finest and Batman in World's Finest have two volumes each so far. These volumes cover a lot of ground quickly, because they're reprinting 10-12 pagers from a quarterly book -- they're both up to around 1946 already. It would only take another volume or two each to get to 1952 -- but they seem to have stalled. Come on, DC! You can do it!

More good news: Dark Horse promises Gold Key's Mighty Samson later this year. Now if only they could get the rights for Gold Key's The Phantom. There were only 17 issues, of which I own about half, and they were very attractive. Interior artist Bill Lignante had a smooth style I really liked, and the painted covers (by whom I don't know) were really gorgeous. One thing about Lignante's Phantom: He had a boxer's nose -- looked like it had been broken a few times. Unusual for those times in general and that company in particular, which made it very cool. I wouldn't mind if such a series continued into the King and Charlton versions of the character -- not as good, but it does feature some early work by Jim Aparo, Pat Boyette and other notables.

Boy the list of Things I Want just keeps growing!
Comment by Captain Comics on March 28, 2010 at 5:09pm
Oops, I forgot to mention that I agree with you, too, Chris about Master of Kung Fu. I have the complete run and don't need the reprints, but I still think it would be criminal for these great books to remain inaccessible to the fans who would so appreciate them. Isn't there an Essentials? It seems to me you could get around the Fu Manchu trademark by just calling the character something else, and maybe redrawing him here or there. Well, maybe not. I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play one on TV.

As others have mentioned, this is the same problem Marvel has with other trademarks it has lost, like Rom: Spaceknight, Micronauts and Godzilla. Possibly others that I'm not remembering at the moment, and it's all very frustrating. Fortunately for Conan fans, the reprint rights to Marvel's CtB stories seem to have moved to Dark Horse with their licensing deal, and they are reprinting those books with gusto!
Comment by Captain Comics on March 28, 2010 at 6:10pm
Oh, and Philip, I love your idea, but I don't think it would work. For one thing, the cost of "Theakstonizing" or otherwise rendering old comics reproduceable in today's computer systems is expensive -- which is why "new" reprints generally debut in the pricy Archives before being reprinted in cheaper formats (Chronology, Showcase, Essentials). They recoup the cost of reproduction with the hardbacks, and once they're in digital form, they can be reprinted very cheaply again and again.

They're also the twin stigmata of such a book being an anthology, and being a reprint. Neither of those formats seem to work in today's market, although I sure as heck would buy them.

But you remind of me when there WAS such a format. At DC, they had 80-Page Giants, and then DC Super Specials and DC Super-Spectaculars. Those gigantic reprint anthologies were joys. Then, in the '70s, DC went up to $1 per book (when others were about half that), with 22-page new stories as lead, and 70 pages or so of reprints in the back. All sorts of cool stuff, especially in Justice League of America, which would reprint old JSA stories, or solo adventures of JSA stars and suchlike. Great stuff.

Which reminds me: Where are the Golden Age JSA hero reprints? I'm thinking especially Flash and Green Lantern (whose respective Archives series seem to have stalled), and the JSA All-Stars Archives, which is still at Volume One. That last series promises to reprint chronologically the JSA members who don't have their own Archives (which, if I'm remembering a-rightly, includes Black Canary, Dr. Fate, Flash, GL, Hawkman, Dr. Fate, Sandman, Spectre, Starman and the Big Three). So it would include the complete Golden Age Atom, Dr. Mid-Nite, Johnny Thunder, Mr. Terrific, Red Tornado and Wildcat -- if it continues.

Comment by Figserello on March 28, 2010 at 8:18pm
Marvel worked out a deal with Toho studios so that Godzilla was reprinted as an Essential. Very underrated piece of work, and Devil Dinosaur and Moon-boy pop up too.

The deal negotiated meant that it was only a one-off print-run, and it was $1 dearer than other Essentials. I bought it because I knew I'd kick myself if I couldn't get it after it went out of print.

Hands of Kung Fu gets much props critically. I'd love to read it as well. Obviously they were still thiinking of comics as something that is put out every month and then forgotten about, if they didn't include any provisions for reprint rights.

Of course nobody knows at the creation of these series, which are going to become a fondly remembered high points and which are just fodder for the newstands cresting the wave of this months fad. (Mix those metaphors!)

Another thing I'd love to see is an Animal Man showcase. There's probably not enough fo his pre-Morrison adventures for a whole book, but it could be padded out with early appearances of B'wana Beast, Dolphin and other forgotten heroes that Morrison revived for his series. And of course the appearances of The Forgotten Heroes themselves too.

I'm thinking there'd be a market for that...
Comment by Eric L. Sofer on March 29, 2010 at 11:16am
I want a Marvel Family collection. And while they're at it, I would like Ibis the Invincible and Bulletman and Bulletgirl collections as well.

How about the Showcase (and few Brave and the Bold) books with super heroes who DIDN'T get their own books, and aren't likely to get an archive? Or am I misremembering and is that list far too short for an archive?

There was only one archive with the early Brave and the Bold teamups prior to Batman taking over in #74 - I'd like to see the rest of those as well.

I haven't seen too many of the western characters getting their own books; I'd like a Bat Lash Showcase or an Essential Two-Gun Kid.

I'd also like a DC collection of team ups that didn't happen in B&B or DC Comics Presents that didn't involve a specific Earth-1/Earth-2 crossover ("Crisis on Multiple Earths - The Teamups" has most of those.) I think there are enough of those to make a good collection too.

Comment by Captain Comics on March 29, 2010 at 11:33am
Some of your wish list has been (at least partially) answered, Eric:

DC has published four volumes of Captain Marvel Archives (with the Big Red Cheese's adventures in chronological order, from all of his books) and one volume of Marvel Family Archives (with Junior and Mary's adventures in chronological order). However, both series seem stalled. And there's no sign of the other Fawcett characters you mention, which I'd sure like to see. Toss in Spy-Smasher, too!

DC published a Showcase Presents: Bat Lash that included his Showcase appearance, his first series and a back-up series he starred in somewhere. Marvel has published two volumes of Marvel Masterworks: Rawhide Kid. Jonah Hex has had a Showcase, too. But otherwise, we do need more Western collections.

I've advocated in the past for a Showcase Presents: Showcase with all the features that aren't going to be reprinted elsewhere -- Maniaks, Leave it to Binky, I -- Spy, Fireman Farrell, Dolphin, Rip Carter -- Time Master, B'wana Beast, etc. If there's not enough material -- and I think there is -- they could throw in the Brave & Bold features from the first 49 issues that aren't already spoken for. Or they could add the Inferior Five appearances, plus their (short) eponymous series.

And I just remembered another series that isn't getting any attention; Blackhawk! There's only been one Archives (Golden Age) and one Showcase (Silver Age). Dear DC: More Blackhawk, please!
Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on March 29, 2010 at 1:58pm
I’ve thought of a few more…

Aquaman:I finally completed my backissue hunt for the “Quest for Mera” storyline, but I’d still welcome a nice collection. I’ll bet there are those who don’t think much of Aquaman who would be surprised how good this story is.

Wonder Woman: I would like a collection of Wonder Woman’s tests to regain her seat in the JLA. I only read odd chapters of this when I was a kid, and never the conclusion.

Thunderbolts: I read only a few issues of this title early on, but the premise just didn’t appeal to me. I’ve since reconsidered and would like to see a series of color tpbs reprinting the series from the beginning.

Comment by Eric L. Sofer on March 29, 2010 at 3:04pm
Cap - Yeah, Blackhawks! I didn't know they had a Showcase, but I'll be grabbing that! I would like to read those... right up to the point of the "super powered" adventurer stories.... oh my dear lord...

Jeff - Wonder Woman made it back into the Justice League. :D I would probably buy a TPB collection of those stories, and the two JLA stories with yet another Nekron when she rejoined.

There are also two JLA series that I thought of that I'd like to see collected that have had a couple of TPBs... but that could probably get a good following. I'd like to see a collected SuperFriends, and I'd really like to see a collected Justice League Adventures. Not JL Unlimited - that first series ran some thirty-odd issues, IIRC, and most of the stories were really good.
Comment by Jeff of Earth-J on March 29, 2010 at 3:17pm
Spoilers, Eric! :P
Comment by Chris Fluit on March 29, 2010 at 4:11pm
Oops, I forgot to mention that I agree with you, too, Chris about Master of Kung Fu. I have the complete run and don't need the reprints, but I still think it would be criminal for these great books to remain inaccessible to the fans who would so appreciate them. Isn't there an Essentials?

Nope, nothing, na da.

Fortunately for Conan fans, the reprint rights to Marvel's CtB stories seem to have moved to Dark Horse with their licensing deal, and they are reprinting those books with gusto!

Dark Horse has also reprinted the complete Marvel Star Wars in a series of trades called A Long Time Ago. And now, IDW is reprinting the complete Marvel GI Joe. They've published seven volumes and solicited an eighth, taking them up to issue 80 of the series. Good news on all three counts for me.


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