Report what comic books you have read today--and tell us a little something about it while you're here!

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How was the Hamlet book?

It was honestly quite good. It was condensed quite a bit, but they hit the highlights. Some of the linking scenes were summarized in captions, and some subplots were eliminated altogether. All of Hamlet's soliliquys were intact, they just drew a full page illustration and filled a quarter of it with text. I didn't realize it when I bought them, but I actually already had all four of them in "study guide" editions published by Acclaim back in the '90s. I'm lookiomg forward to reading the Frankenstein one, but I'll probably save The Invisible Man until I'm in the mood to read The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

 CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED: This weekend I bought four issues of the original Classics Illustrated from the ‘40s... why would these Golden Age comics cost so little when others go for hundreds if not thousands of dollars (or rather the reverse)? Low demand, I guess.

Gilberton used to reissue the comics at intervals. Sometimes the new editions got new covers. Some of the adaptations were replaced by new versions at some point.

Until 1947 the series title was Classic Comics. The Classic Comics adaptions were subsequently reissued in the Classics Illustrated series, with the same numbering.

The GCD tells me the adaptation of Frankenstein first appeared as Classics Comics #26 in 1945, and was reissued in 1946. Classics Illustrated editions appeared in 1949, 1958, 1965 and 1969.

The Classics Comics editions had an ink cover by the interior artists. This was also used on the first Classics Illustrated edition. The remaining issues had a painted cover by Norman Saunders. The original adaptation was never replaced.

Some adaptations only appeared in Europe e.g. The Castle of Otranto. I think some of these were done in Europe. The James Bond issue of Showcase was a British/European Classics Illustrated adaptation (but the artist was Norman Nodel, so it was presumably done in America).

Classic Comic Store reprinted the issue in 2009. Their issues, unlike the originals, use glossy paper. I happen to have their edition of Frankenstein.

The adaptation was written by Ruth Roche, pencilled by Robert Webb, and inked by Ann Brewster. I'm familiar with Webb's work from comics apparently prepared by the Iger Shop.

I've seen some of those new editions, but my LCS doesn't carry them.

The Frankenstein I bought has the Norman Saunders painting (signed). I think it's the 1949 edition. Of the ones I bought yesterday, one was identified on the price tag as "9th print" and one as "12th print" but I don't recall which was which. The only thing I know about Classic Illustrated numbering is that it's arcane and nigh incomprehensible to the casual fan.

The GCD galleries the issues by their cover number, so it galleries different versions of the Gilberton issues adjacently (but Classic Comics separately, and the British and European editions separately again).

Its page on the series says

We are listing each and every printing of each issue, either as variants or as own indexes. Many of the older issues, however, were redone at various points in their life. These changes include new covers, new interior art, or sometimes simple page count reductions, resulting in abridged reprints. We have called out each of these different editions in their own index. 

If I follow this correctly, when a new printing was changed significantly it gets it own index page, but not always otherwise. I thought there were four Classic Illustrated printings of Frankenstein because the GCD has four covers in its gallery. Apparently there were more than that, so my post above is wrong.

The series page notes the checklists in the issues provide an indication of where the series was up to when a variant was printed. It calls the highest number listed the HRN (highest reorder number). I don't know if the issues were ever reprinted without updating the checklist.

The GCD's page on the 1949 version of Frankenstein lists five variants of that edition, counting the first. Their HRNs are 60, 62, 71, 82, 117. It has a page on the HRN 117 one that seems to say the credits were different in that version.(1)

If the GCD's information is complete the Saunders cover first appeared on the 1958 version. It lists four variants with that cover, counting the first: HRNs 146, 166, 167, 169. The Saunders Frankenstein covers in the gallery are listed as coming from issues with the HRNs 146, 167 and 169. I can't see a difference between HRNs 146 and 167. (HRN 167's cover looks a bit darker, but that might be an artefact of the scanning.) HRN 169 is 25c instead of 15.

(1) It says "Only Webb and Brewster are credited on splash page as illustrators." Other editions credit Ruth Roche as the adaptor, and "Lewis Goldklang" (R. Lewis Golden) as the letterer.

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #6: Yes, I know I posted the cover of Giant-Size Fantastic Four #6, but that’s where I first read it. I’d like to be able to say it made a huge impact on my life, but it didn’t really. I loved collecting new series from #1, I loved the “Giant-Size” series, and I had been buying the FF one since Giant-Size Super-Stars #1. With issue #5 it began printing reprints, but I continued to buy them. (Why not? They were new to me.) Annual/Giant-Size #6 was easy enough to follow. It was mostly action, but I had no real vestment in the characters. I knew there was no Franklin Richards in the early FF’s I had read, but I had never given any thought to there being a comic book which actually depicted his birth.

I probably didn’t read it a second time until John Byrne’s “back to basics” approach in the ‘80s interested me in seeking out the Lee/Kirby issues (mostly in Marvel’s Greatest Comics reprints, which were inexpensive). Then I read it in context for the first time, and really became a true fan of the Lee/Kirby years.

It’s interesting reading these issues now in “omnibus” format because doing so makes it easy to flip backwards and forwards. This is a 48-page issue, and Kirby really takes advantage of the extra pages by drawing fewer but bigger panels per page. There are many examples of 3- or 4-panel pages throughout. Perhaps the most striking difference when comparing the run of issues I am reading now (post #67, after Marvel changed to smaller original art boards) is how little dialogue there is (relatively speaking). The early issues in the collection are crammed with dialogue, but the panels of these issues are sparsely populated by word balloons in comparison. Up until now I had been reading these stories with an eye toward how the smaller art board size affected Kirby, but it (even more obviously) affected Lee as well.

When I read the Lee/Kirby run via Essentials and Masterworks I noticed that change also. Stan may have cut back on his script chores due to the expansion of the line adding to his workload as editor, plus he may have been aware of Jack's increasing unhappiness and was using Jack's margin notes without re-writing as he had previously.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Perhaps the most striking difference when comparing the run of issues I am reading now (post #67, after Marvel changed to smaller original art boards) is how little dialogue there is (relatively speaking). The early issues in the collection are crammed with dialogue, but the panels of these issues are sparsely populated by word balloons in comparison. Up until now I had been reading these stories with an eye toward how the smaller art board size affected Kirby, but it (even more obviously) affected Lee as well.

WALLY WOOD: I finished reading Wally Wood's THUNDER Agents yesterday. Interestingly, the last Dynamo story Woody illustrated deals with Dynamo suffering from PTSD. If, when I finish reading "Came the Dawn" (EC archive edition dedicated to Wally Wood), I am still in the mood, I may move on to another Wood collection, perhaps Cannon.

Batman Shadow of the Bat #41: This is the start of a story about Anarky. This villain was one of the first whose first story I actually was there to witness (by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle). This issue came a few years later, still written by Alan Grant, but with equally stunning art by John Paul Leon. This was so beautiful, and this was a strong reminder of what a great issue Alan Grant was and is.

Lazarus Vol. 5: Cull
Greg Rucka, writer; Michael Lark, artist; Santi Arcas, colorist
Image Comics, 2017

What a great series this is! Good bit of time since I read the previous collection, but I was quickly reminded of what had happened before: no need to go back and reread. All Sixteen Families are at war, so it's a world war, and in this story we encounter families (and their Lazari) that we have not seen before. Forever Carlyle was seriously injured in the battle that concluded the previous volume, so the first part of this story centers on the effort to repair her and get her back into action. At the same time, her young clone replacement is being readied in case she is needed. She is beginning to seriously question her role in the family. After long discussion the family decides they should not reveal the truth to her--but Johanna (acting head of the family) disagrees, and works with the young scientist the family had recruited to give Forever her freedom while maintaining the appearance of control. A new Lazarus enters a war zone, and the arc ends in chaos.

Low, Vol. 4: Outer Aspects of Inner Attitudes
Rick Remender, writer; Greg Tocchini, artist; Dave McCaig, colors
Image Comics, 2017

The main focus in this short four-issue collection is Tajo Caine, who returns to her family home on the dome city of Salus to find a city on the brink of devastation. As her mother had predicted, vital systems are failing: there is no food, no air, no hope. Tajo bands together with IO (a man with an ancient secret), and Mertali, a brave mermaid from the gladiator pits of Poluma. Her nemesis Lena has planted a bomb which will deliver the final death blow to the city. In the end Tajo's group takes their newly found information about a habitable planet in another galaxy to the city's rulers--and basically pull of a coup to fly the city up to the surface and off to the stars. The whole time Tajo is debating about her self-image, coming to terms with her role as events unfold. Her final embrace of her self worth parallels the story conclusion, which strikes me as a bit pat--but the whole series has had a family therapy tone all along, so it comes with the territory. The introspection is accompanied by plenty of action, beautifully illustrated by Tocchini, as always.

Zomnibus Vol. 1

IDW Publishing, 2012

I bought several IDW omnibus horror collections at HeroesCon a couple of years ago, and the Halloween season seemed a good time to finally dip into them. Got to love the title! The last part of this collection is the prematurely titled "Complete Zombies vs. Robots" which was superseded by another IDW omnibus entirely devoted to the series. So I skipped that for now, and read the two miniseries that precede it.

Zombies!: Feast is a five issue miniseries written by Shane McCarthy and chiefly illustrated by Chris Bolton. It's a dark story about a bus full of prison inmates who find themselves in a town full of zombies after their bus breaks down on the road. They quickly figure out what is happening, but not before they lose several of their party. And lots of innocent bystanders die as well, often as the result of mistaken "friendly fire." This is an aspect of the story that is much more realistic than typical zombie tales like The Walking Dead.

Zombies!: Eclipse of the Undead is a four-issue miniseries that shows what a zombie apocalypse in Los Angeles might look like. As usual, the living are nearly as much of a hazard as the dead. The group of survivors that escape from the stadium known as Refugee Camp Number Two are a ragged bunch, including gang members, convicts, and a martial arts expert with a big sword (sound familiar?). There is a brief epilogue set 20 years later that shows how human society might survive--more than a little reminiscent of the current Walking Dead TV show.

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