I will stand by my assertion, Lee, that CBG took a while to regain its footing after Don Thompson's death, but I absolutely agree that the switch to monthly magazine format was the beginning of the end. Unfortunately, I had re-upped for another three years just prior to the switch. What I hated about it most was being "forced" buy a price guide I had absolutely no interest in month after month. I once complained to Craig Shutt (via e-mail) that I objected to the collection of his columns having a price guide instead of an index, and he told the the decision wasn't his. I followed up in person with John Jackson Miller at one of the MidSouth Cons (one of the times I hooked up with Captain comics) and he was unapologetic.
Here's something else about those first six issues of the magazine format: it wasn't until the sixth (#1600) that the cover feature was about comics or even featured artwork rather than photographs. The first five issues were about movies, and cover-featured Spider-Man 2, Spider-Man 2, Aliens vs. Predator, Sky Captain & the World of Tomorrow and The Incredibles. Even the Jim Lee Superman artwork of #1600 shared the cover with a photo of Chistopher Reeve who had recently died. [NOTE: A letter from one Lee Houston, Jr. is featured in the "Memorium" section.]
I understand the decision to feature movies rather than comic books on the cover (although I don't agree with it); a lot of people go to the movie, and only a relative few read comics. Nevertheless, even Wizard published thier magazine with flip covers, one of comics, one of pop culture. If editorial director JJM was hoping to attract a more mainstream audience, I've got an anecdote for him. At one point, after I had let my subscription lapse in 2007, I was going to take a plane trip and thought I'd like to take a CBG with me to read on the trip. I went to every comic shop in the area and not one of them even carried CBG anymore.
It was sometime after that that I decided I missed the columnists, and decided to re-up my subscription. To my delight and surprise, my first subscription copy was no long square bound but stapled, and featured no price guide! I have no idea when this switch was made because, as I indicated, neither my own LCS nor any other in my area even carried CBG. )I continued to recycle new issue although I kept the ones on the shelf.) Shortly after that, though, CBG folded and Krause replaced my subscription with some antique rag I never read. (Why not Goldmine?)
I actually had something positive to say about the "new" CBG, but i went off on a tangent (and I just thought of another complaint, too). Maybe next time.
I am reminded of what the original owner/creator of what was then called The Buyer's Guide to Comics Fandom, Alan Light, was told by a reader that he wanted more articles and less price guide. Alan (who I guess saw the price guide as the main reason people bought his periodical) responded that he would rather the readers who only bought it for the articles wouldn't buy it. I would think that if I bought it to wrap fish he shouldn't care as long as I bought it.
I think the reason for highlighting movies (like many of today's conventions) was a desperate attempt to bring in new readers. I never saw it in a comic store or a news rack even though they were touting that as a reason for the format change. Since they soon canceled CBG, I don't think too many potential new readers saw it, either. I was also annoyed that they substituted a magazine I didn't want instead of returning the remaining money.
I always favored DC's war comics to Marvel's, probably because my first exposure to the genre was with Our Army at War featuring Sgt. Rock, which towers above all others.
But I also liked The Unknown Soldier in Star-Spangled War Stories, particularly the 1970s run written by David Michelinie and drawn by Gerry Talaoc. Star-Spangled War Stories also carried Enemy Ace and The War That Time Forgot (which is just begging for a big-budget movie -- Army soldiers against dinosaurs!).
I liked Lt. Johnny Cloud in All-American Men of War; The Haunted Tank in G.I. Combat; and Weird War Tales, the anthology with a rotating crew of artists and writers.
Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commmandos I never took to. Likewise Combat Kelly and His Dirty Dozen, Capt. Savage and His Leatherneck Raiders. I've read a couple issues of War Is Hell (not that there were a whole lot of them).
As for The 'Nam, I got in on the ground floor, totally because of the great, detailed Michael Golden art, following his stint in the black-and-white magazine Savage Tales. Golden and writer Doug Murray did a pair of Vietnam War-set stories under the umberella "5th to the 1st," and The 'Nam was clearly an extension of that series.
Unfortunately, Golden drew only the first 12 issues of The 'Nam, and his successor was pretty bland. Worse, the book drifted from its promise to progress through the war a month at a time. Still worse, Marvel broke its stated or implied promise that this book was out of Marvel continuity and polluted it with the likes of The Punisher.
I don't remember specifically when I bailed on the book, but I know I did a few years in. I picked up a five-part story titled "The Death of Joe Hallen" that was written by Chuck Dixon, and got the final part of the run; Dixon circled back to the grunts who were in the book during the first year and showed what they were up to.
CBG #1600 is a keeper. Touted on the cover as an "Anniversary Special!" (although it's not made clear anywhere an anniversary of what, exactly), it features the regular contibutors submitting lists of their favorite comic book runs (no individual issues of graphic novels) totaling 1,600 (I assume; I didn't actually tally them). Tony Isabella later turned this basic concept into a hardcover book. Whenever I'm in the mood to read comics but can't decide which one, I often got to Isabella's 1000 choices. (Sometimes I read just that.) Now I'll have this one to go to as well.
Yesterday when I said "unapologetic" I should have said "adamant" that he was right. I'll get back to knocking CBG later when I'm more in the mood. ;)
STEVE DITKO'S 160-PAGE PACKAGE #3: I took a week or so off from Ditko's "Package" series, but I'm going to skip #3 entirely. It's all reprints from the Charlton days (late '60s, early '70s), and that material is better served in one of Craig Yoe's large, color, hardcover reprints. I did, however, read my original copies of...
CHARLTON ACTION #11-12: I kind of lucked into finding these on the rack in 1985 while visiting "Bob's Comic Book World" in Kirkwood, Mo. Remembering the heady days of E-Man, I snatched them right up. They are noteworthy for the first two appearances of Static, but they also have several back-up features. I got the following from the back-up stories of just those two issues.
UNUSUAL DITKO CHARACTER NAMES: Some of these are first names, some of them last, some of them male's names, some of them female's, a few of them are alien's but it doesn't really make a lot of difference. Here they are: Ote Kame, Faina, Brak, Morto, Kige, Vaig, Ren, Razmo, Zola, Seli, Sagi, Kelan, Zapa, Vagar, Noko and Halen. the following are all place names, most of them planets: Ludo, Zubi, Efn, Erh, Kela and Elr. Next will be a list of super-heroes (and some villains) Ditko created post-1997.
CBG: I haven't elected to keep much of the dozen or so issues I have read so far. As much as I enjoyed reading others' opinions of the same new comics I myself was reading, much of the content is not only dated, but it dredges up memories of stories best forgotten, such as "Avengers: Disassembled" and "Sins Past." Here's something... well, not "funny" (not "ha-ha" funny, anyway)... from Captain Comics' column: "[Gwen Stacy's] behavior in 'Sins Past' is so diametrically opposed to her previous characterization, it's like finding out Captain America was a Bundist during World War II."
Hey, Cap! Betcha never would've guessed at the time that in just a few more years you'd be able to read that story, too!
CBG: There are certain human physical or physiological responses that actually do exist, but are rare yet have almost become cliche. For example, in my life, I have...
...seen red (once);
...shook in anger (once);
...had my hair stand on end (once);
...stopped dead in my tracks (once).
When I lived at 1108 Hall St. in the '90s. i parked in back but my mailbox was in front, on the street, at the corner of my property. It was a short walk from the box to my front door, and one day my CBG was delivered. I unfolded it and briefly glanced at the cover, only long enough to register Don Thompson's photo on the front page. That in itself was odd; Don & Maggie very seldom every ran pictures of themselves, let alone on the front page, but they had done so often enough that I recognized his face. I took a few more steps. I also thought it odd that they chose to run the photo against a marble background... exactly the same kind of background they had run Jack Kirby's front page photo against a few months earlier when he died. A few more steps. I thought to myself that was an odd editorial choice. I thought it might give the impression that Don Thompson had died. Then it happened.
I STOPPED DEAD IN MY TRACKS.
I'll never forget that sensation as I stopped to confirm that he had, in fact, died. I must have traveled no more than ten feet before it sank in.
Don Thompson was so much more than an editor or writer or newspaper man to me. His reviews were always so much more than merely reviews. They were like little life lessons. CBG continued to run colums and articles he had prepared in advance for a while, but the publication floundered like a ship without a rudder for the next several years until they finally established a post-Don Thompson direction. That's why, when I moved across country a few years later, I kept all of my 1989-1994 CBGs but discarded the 1994-2001 ones. CBG was back on track by then, but I no longer felt the need to save my issues.
MISTER INVINCIBLE - "Local Hero": I'm going to try not to oversell this graphic album. It is an English translation, published by Magnetic Press, of two French volumes by Pascal Jousselin. It won the Bologna Ragazzi comics award in 2020. How to describe this series...? the back cover blurb describes Mister Invincible ("The One and Only True Comic Book Superhero") as having "the amazing power to bend space and time... by breaking the rules of comic books! Panel and page borders can't contain his might! His incredible, creative intellect always shows him the most amazing solutions to seemingly insurmountable dangers! He is truly INVINCIBLE!"
Basically, he can move between panels in non-sequential order, into the "past" and into the "future," while also interacting with his past/future selves. I have seen this kind of thing before (in the work of Harvey Kurtzman, in Calvin & Hobbes, Gasoline Alley, etc.), but never have I seen it as the raison d'etre of a feature. That's basically what the strip is about, but there's more to it than that. His sidekick, 2-D Boy (or "Too-Dee") has the power to, uh... how do I describe this?)... to snatch things from the background of the panel and bring them into the foreground while retaining the objects respective size.
His main nemesis, the Jester, has the power to move from any given panel to the panel on the flip side of the page. The pages/panels make sequential sense when read on both pages. Another nemesis, by use of his annihilator ray, dissolves portions of three panels on a particular page (and those panels are actually missing). On that page, the characters interact with the action in the panels two pages later, and when the readers turns the page, they characters interact with the action in the panels two pages earlier. Plus pages one and four make sense when read on their own! I said I wasn't going to oversell this, but I've got to give [at least] one more example of this strip's inventiveness. Later, this same scientist returns with a device which splits the world into alternate realities. the next page is a fold-out, but only the first three tiers. The reader can choose to read either the folded or the unfolded page, and they both lead into the bottom tier of the page.
There are many more gimmicks of equal inventiveness (such as the woman he meets who experiences the panels in backwards order or the story in which he utilizes color in a unique manner), culminating in a team-up of all the characters he has encountered and a "crossover" with "American" superheroes. It begins with single page gags, then the stories become increasingly complex. The book is "intended for middle-grade readers aged 8-14 or above," but I would recommend it not only to the young, but the young at heart, as anyone who wishes he still were. I had never heard of this comic before; the owner of my LCS recommended it to me. He told me, "Just read the first page." That was enough to sell me, but I preferred the gags on pages two and three. If you see this one on the shelf, read either page one or two or three; I'll bet it will be hard to put down after that.
Bouncing through a lot of stuff.
Comic wise, got both Kindle volumes of Barbarella for 99 cents each. Almost done reading the first. Some surreal material and adventures here, akin to what one might find in Heavy Metal. Art quality ranges from sketchy in long shots to somewhat more detailed in closer panels. Lot of adult innuendo and situations. But if you're looking for something explicit, sorry. The most "action" one sees is the title character just topless on a regular basis and only cuddling with her latest partner after the main event happens off panel.
Recently I also discovered and got all 8 volumes of the collected Scooby Doo Team Up series from DC for free on Kindle too.
While every adventure I've read so far is written by Sholly Fisch in the style of 1970s Hanna-Barbera animation like the New Scooby Doo Movies and other shows, there are a lot of "in" jokes and Easter Eggs for older readers too.
Volume 1 features (in order, from the first six issues) Batman and Robin, the Mystery Analysts of Gotham, Bat-Mite, Teen Titans Go, Wonder Woman, and the Super Friends, who took on the original Legion of Doom.
At one point Daphne wondered why Robin and Shaggy sounded similar to her (Casey Kasem voiced both in the 70s) and later observed how Robin was completely different when he hung out with the Titans than compared to being with Batman (different art styles).
In the middle of Volume 2 right now (issues 7-12) and the quality and fun are just as good as the first collection. In order: Flintstones, Jetsons (time travel obvious in this two part adventure), Superman and Jonny Quest with Secret Squirrel next before whoever appears to finish the book.
SCOUT: I inspired myself to re-read some of Timothy Truman's Scout with some covers I posted last week. I started with issue #1 of Scout: War Shaman, then I went back and read the first six issues of the original series. Pretty good stuff. Oddly, the first series takes place in the "future" of 1999; the second series takes place on 2015, with a framing sequence in 2030. I may or may not continue. We'll see.
DITKO: I found the answer to a question I myself posed last week, about why Ditko took credit for both story and art on his Charlton work but used a pseudonym for his scripts. It is because "common knowledge" in those days was that artists couldn't write.
CBG: #1610 is another keeper, the whole issue. (I wish I had realized that before I started tearing pages out. Oh, well.) first thing, it is one of the relatively few covers since the switch to a monthly magazine which actually features comic books (Superman, Batman and Supergirl for the new Supergirl monthly series) rather than movies, so that's a plus. I think I'll use this post to discuss some of the regular columns/features in addition to articles specific to this issue.
DWAYNE MCDUFFIE: Captain Comics' column this month was about the various DC animated series and featured an interview with Dwayne McDuffie. I hadn't seen any of the shows at the time of this article (nor was I following the ongoing discussion on this board), but I did read it. The article (and knowledge of the ongoing discussion) is probably what inspired me to play catch-up on DVD. I have, just recently, re-watched all four Justice League seasons, so they are still pretty fresh in my mind. Consequently, I got a whole lot more out of the interview this time around. So sad McDuffie died so young.
ARTICLE 1: Patrick Daniel McNeill, who holds a dergee in Communications and Mass Media from the city college of New York, wrote an article about the journalistic ethics of Clark Kent and Peter Parker. He included the "Society of Professional Journalist Code of Ethics," the "America Society of Newspaper Editors statement of Principle," the "Associated Press Managing Editors Statement of Ethical Principles" and the "NT Times Handbook of ethical Journalism" in his treatment. I found this article to be significant apropos BMB's recent Superman (although that's a series I've decided to drop post hiatus).
COLUMNISTS: Twice in my life I have decided to write all of CBG's columnists, one at a time. the first time I got all the way through; the second time I was side-tracked to this message board part way through and I've been here ever since. Mark Evanier's "Point of View" column is no longer being run in the series of issues I am reading, nor is R.C. Harvey's "Rants and Raves." (Evanier's column just stopped under mysterious circumstances he only alluded to in print.) New to CBG (in these issues) is Beau Smith's "Dottin' the Eyes" column. Beau Smith is one of the columnists (Heidi MacDonald is another) I have never written to. I really liked Smith's writing style and there is one article in particular I wanted to comment on, but I haven't gotten to it yet.
ARTICLE 2: "Shredding Stereotypes" is written by Jesse Jace, a Cherokee Native and online comic book dealer. She wrote an article about sterotypal portrayals of Native Americans, and some good example, too. Top of her "bad" list is Apache Chief, a character from Super Friends just a little past my time. Having just rediscovered Scout for myself (see previous post), I was surprised to read, "Scout and Scalphunter (in Weird Western Tales) comics are still handed to the paper shredder at my house." (The title of this article is meant to be taken literally.) Even thought she owned an online comic book store, she preferred to shred them "rather than let that trash circulate."
She liked Warpath, from Marvel's Exiles (another character with which I am wholly unfamiliar) and was able to explain the broken English often spoken by Native Americans in popular culture in historical context. Unfortunately, she did not offer an opinion on another of my favorite "Indian-themed" comics (Coyote) or supporting character (Wyatt Wingfoot). I think I read enough in context to know that she would not have approved of John Byrne's or Mike Grell's Indian characters, but I'm just guessing.
REVIEWS: As I mentioned before, CBG suffered for a while adfter the loss of Don Thompson. Reviews were his purview, and most regular writers/columnists generally respected that. By this time, though, CBG was chock full of reviews, dozens an dozens per issue, a good thing.Having said that, though...
OBLIGATORY FIGHT SCENE: One "cutesy" feature was two reviewers, Jim Johnson and John Petty, who took opposing views on a particular comic or series under discussion. Although their pictures (later caricatures) ran each issue, I never learned which was which. I usually did agree with one or the other, but because I didn't know who either was, I don't even know if it was the same one from week to week. Most of the time, thet didn't disagree with each other all that much, and most of their creative energy was put into dreaming up "clever" nicknames for each other ("Nabob of nonsense" and the like). Finally, upon re-reading #1610, they referred to each other as "O Prince of Ponytails" (Johnson) and "O Bearded One" (Petty) and I knew which was which.
10 FAVORITE COVERS: Each issue has three slick pages devoted to the favorite covers of one comic book pro or another. I like that feature, but we have a thread on this board which serves the same purpose.
THE GUIDE: We're now up to the section I hate most: the price guide. This whole section is a mess! I can see now that the layout was probably designed to resemble a web page. If so, that's just a further example (like the movie-oriented covers) of wishing comics were something they're not. the guide runs across both pages. the left page has a column on the left usually featuring another review. the upper right of the left page and the upper left of the right page were reserved for "RetroViews," an in-depth look at a comic book series (well-known or obscure), an issue at a time. the left colum of the right page was given over to sales trends, autions, original art sales and the like. Across the bottom was a timeline which features runs of various series, highlighting individual issues.
The reviews were a welcome feature, but no reason not to run them in the review section. I liked the "RetroViews"; they are similar to discussions hosted on this board by myself and others. When i was reading CBG on a monthly basis, I usually read them all if the series was one which interested me; now, I'm not willing to take the time. I had no objections to the other features on these pages, but that price guide! I really resented being "forced" to buy something I wasn't remotely interested in month after month.
And I'll tell you something else about the CBG price guide and Standard Catalog of Comics: nobody ever used it! Comics Shops used Overstreet exclusively. If you were to contest an Overstreet price with something in the Standard Catalog, the shop owner would have laughed at you, whether or not he even knew what the "Standard Catalog" was.
OH, SO?: The letters this issue we about the "Battle of the Ages" issue of CBG, and many of the observations were more insightful than some of those offered by the regular contributors in the featured issue.
NEXUS: THE ORIGIN: I have been considering re-reading Nexus for some time now. Rather than start at the beginning with the Capital/First series (which I have read multiple times), I decided to start with the Dark Horse stuff (which I have read far less frequently).
VINTAGE MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER #1: the series has been collected in its entirety in "archive" format, complete with original coloring. there's something to be said for that, but the four-issue Vintage Magnus series reprinted four of the best issues with state-of-the-art coloring.
Both of the above comics served as an excellent introduction to...
MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER & NEXUS #1-2: Rarely has a crossover series fit so perfectly into both continuities. This first issue is a bit "Magnus heavy" (Nexus doesn't show until the last four of five pages), but bringing Nexus in any earlier wouldn't have served the plot. The "official" count of Nexus issues varies somewhat from mine (it doesn't include any comics featuring characters under copyright), but the "Earth-J" count includes everything by Baron and Rude.(which I number #81 and #82).