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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I am a day behind on my reading. Regarding Roy's essay - he mentions a Fawcett character called Warlock the Wizard who appeared in Nickel Comics. Wasn't Roy responsible for remaking Him into Warlock right around the time this article was written? Coincidence?

I can't say about that, but Thomas is on record about borrowing certain aspects of Atoman's costume for Captain Marvel.

"Meanwhile, I'd been sketching (and even coloring) a new costume for Mar-Vell. I based the look on a little-known 1946 superhero called Atoman, who'd starred in a mere two issues of his own title (from a small company known as spark Publications). Atoman's red-and-yellow garb, complete with cape, sunburst symbol on his chest, and a facemask which left his hair exposed, had always grabbed me--and now, more than two decades later, I was grabbing it back!"

Actually, the red-and-yellow motif (reversed) looks a bit like Adam Warlock as well, now that I think about it (although neither character sported a cape). 

...at least not at first.

11. "Comic of the Absurd" by Harlan Ellison

This is the eleventh chapter in a ten-chapter book. As the introduction explained, Ellison came as close to missing his deadline without actually missing it as is possible. (He finished it on an airplane then dropped it in the mail while making a connection to an overseas flight.) As it is, the first edition, while it carried the chapter, did not list it in the table of contents. Ellison's topic is the comics work of George Carlson, particularly Jingle Jangle Comics. He goes on to describe, in minute detail, one of Carlson's stories using words only. In my estimation, he falls far short of the mark. The majority of his chapter is this description, which I found difficult to read. Even including the summary, at seven pages this is the shortest chapter of the book. 

Luckily, I happen to have a sample of Carlson's work in my collection, from A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics (as opposed to the earlier edition of newspaper comics). Surprisingly, co-editor Martin Williams mentioned Ellison's chapter of AICFAD in his introduction to Carlson's work in the Smithsonian collection. Not surprisingly, he found it as disappointing as I did: "Ellison's awe, his enthusiasm, and his careful recounting of one of Carlson's best strip episodes could, of course, have been no substitute for the real thing, and most of the book's readers probably had not seen the real thing."

Unfortunately, I will not be able to provide a substitute, either, but here is what Williams had to say: "Jingle Jangle Comics... was a comic book intended for small children, and I expect that the virtues of Carlson's work will not occur to us unless we remember that fact. Carlson's wonderful silliness and follow-your-nose whimsy functioned best when it was uninhibited by any demands of a well-rounded plot (which he did occasionally set for himself)."

And that is the end of All in Color for a Dime. I am awaiting a copy of The Comic-Book Book to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, is anyone interested in a look at A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Unfortunately, I will not be able to provide a substitute, either

There are 42 issues of Jingle Jangle Comics on comicbookplus.com. Here's the link:

Jingle Jangle Comics 01 (Eastern Color) - Comic Book Plus

Here's the cover of issue #5

Jeff of Earth-J said:

And that is the end of All in Color for a Dime. I am awaiting a copy of The Comic-Book Book to arrive in the mail. In the meantime, is anyone interested in a look at A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics? 

I just looked for my copy of A Smithsonian Book of Comic-Book Comics. Just before giving up, I actually found it. I'm open to discussing it if you want.

"There are 42 issues of Jingle Jangle Comics on comicbookplus.com."

I just love living in the future.*

*(Most of the time, anyway. Sometimes it feels as if we are living in the past.)

"Just before giving up, I actually found it."

I'd hate for you to have gone to all that trouble for nothing. ;)

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