I’m not sure if I’m reading this correctly but the Joe Kubert ‘Back Issue’ cover of Superman belies the content from the sub-title, ‘Bronze Age Rarities & Oddities Issue’. Then again, would a Kubert picture of Superman be appropriate with a face like that?
Maybe I was caught unaware by editor Mike Eury’s look at Superman and Batman art by Jim Aparo. Then Eddy Zeno’s look at Curt Swan’s Batman art. That was an interesting because I wasn’t aware he did them together and then realised ‘World’s Finest’. A lot still depends on his inker and several examples are shown.
Then we get to the oddities and I’m not sure how many got UK distribution, especially as many were done as freebies for manufacturers. The first here is the Evel Knievel Promotional Comic and Ed Lute goes through it as a means to sell a variety of stunt transport. I think we had some of the vehicles over here but not widely circulated.
The double page art gags by Karl Heitmuller Jr. did raise a few smiles, especially if Don Martin had been hired to redraw Superman’s face. That and ‘Life At Xavier High’, an Archie take on the X-Men.
Some of the custom comic made it to the UK, think ‘The Uncanny X-Men At The State Fair Of Texas’ and the first ‘Spider-Man And The Hulk’ simply because of the characters but less sure about the other 10 comicbook promotions. As Cecil Disharoon points out from the interview with Jim Salicrap, Kerry Gammill and, shortly before he died, David Anthony Kraft, that these were non-canon so gave some freedom with characters and so forth for educational and other promotions.
Mark Arnold’s look at the Kool-Aid Man is a grey area simply because I don’t think it was sold in the UK although flavoured powders for drinking did have a short life over here in the 60s. It’s promotion in comicbooks does point out the selling point of the medium.
Writer Michael Uslan, before becoming a film producer, did a series of stories at DC Comics that got lost in their implosion and Dan Tandarich reveals their background and plots.
Then we’re back to sweets tie-ins with ‘Comicbook Candy’ with 6 DC newly drawn origins comics as a selling point. John Schwirian’s most potent point is that the page rate was higher than the regular comic page so had willing creators.
For those of you who collect all things Superman should turn to Germany. Back in the 1980s they were reprinting faster than the home country was producing them so Paul Kupperberg shows more stories were created. Only 9 of these stories were reprinted in the USA so there’s lots more out there.
Mind you, if you want a Superman comic that is rare because of its limited 200 issue print run 8 page comicbook, then its ‘This Island Bradman’, paid for by a father for his son’s mitzvah with art by Curt Swan and written by David Levin. They rarely come up for auction but two copies sold for $5,000 and $8,000. I suspect, after this article, that might go up even higher.
Finally, a massive article by Robert V. Conte on variant covers. If you thought this took off with Spider-Man # 1, then he goes back further to the mistakes, as with Fantastic Four # 110 where a printer’s error omitted a red pass resulting in a greener cover. I know when I was young there was a spell where in the UK we could get Marvel and, I think, DC Comics with UK prices in the local shops and through the comicbook shops, the American priced editions.
Consequently, in my collection file, I noted the UK prices in black and the US priced comics in red as an easy way to keep watch. Conte’s article also points out that multiple choice covers brought on speculators thinking they could make their fortunes and bought in bulk. Well, we know what happened there, too many in circulation and not many made money. Alas, cover variants are still done and I was shocked to see some having 60 cover versions. One can only hope they weren’t all bagged.
I didn’t comment back in the day that as no one was likely to open bagged comics, the contents could have been Millie The Model for all anyone knew. Reflecting now, I suspect if that had been true, people would still buy them simply because they were different. In many respects, I would say it would be useful to compare such collecting to trading card collecting. People will buy them, outside of speculating, simply because they want the set. Thank the Illuminatii I’m more interested in the content than the covers.
As ever, more than enough here to make you think, so don’t forget your ‘Back Issue’.
(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ (US))
check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and