Back Issue #136 July 2022 (magazine review).

July 18, 2022 | By | Reply More

This issue of ‘Back Issue’ has an emphasis on newspaper strips and although Spider-Man is on the cover, he’s but one of the eleven articles.

For starters, there is ‘Friday Foster’ (1970-74). I saw the Pam Grier starring 1972 film last year and been toying with pulling the newspaper strip book which is out there. Writer Steven Thompson goes over her history, written by Jim Lawrence and drawn by Spanish artist Jorge Longarón and its spotted newspaper history in America. More so when the southern states realised Friday was a black character and dropped her. From the looks of things, they only saw her in colour (sic) in the Sunday editions. In black and white, she could almost pass as a latino. Even so, the newspaper strip lasted four years.

Publisher Carlton also dipped its toes in the newspaper market, principally with cartoons using their characters as explained by Mark Arnold.

I’ve heard of ‘The Menomonee Falls Gazette’ even though its appearances in the UK were sparse. John Wells goes over its history and how it preserved newspaper strips and released them on a weekly basis followed up with  cover gallery. From the British end, they featured Garth (the Frank Bellamy period), Jeff Hawke, James Bond and Modesty Blaise amongst others and a whole range from America as witnessed by the checklist. Its something we take a lot more for granted these days, more so with the number of reprints out there but this foresight back in the early 70s no doubt ensured its start.

‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ newspaper strip with its 42 year run is regarded as longest super-hero one. As writer Dewey Cassell points out, much of its run was ghostwritten by Roy Thomas with the art by Stan’s brother, Larry Leiber. Reading here, it does become obvious that the family life of married Peter and Mary-Jane Parker shows it was a necessary ingredient in newspaper strips although I wasn’t that keen on her change in hair style.

The ‘Howard The Duck’ newspaper strip lasted a lot less for four years, not helped by Steve Gerber not keeping up with the deadlines.

DC’s ‘The World’s Greatest Superheroes’ was really just another name for the Justice League but writer John Wells exploration does reveal the problems. No matter how much money you offer the comicbook writers and artists doing it, there’s a lot of set rules to apply, especially to the Sundays because not all papers run them. Thing is and in comparison to the UK, the US continuity is three tiers whereas here we only had 3 panels! Part of me does feel you Americans were spoilt but more characters getting space always causes problems.

Stephen Friedt examines ‘Star Hawks’ created by Gil Kane and Ron Goulart, who died in January 2022. I’ve seen some of this material in book form, not realising its newspaper roots. Very much space opera. Looking objectively at the art, I do wonder at what size it was printed and the grade of newsprint, all obstacles to the artist at any time.

The original ‘Star Trek’, moving into the films period, also got into newspaper syndication and the appropriately named John K. Kirk goes over its history. It’s also nice to know that the panel art by Thomas Warkentin was better and then dazzling under Ron Harris than the opening sample page.

Finally, Dewey Cassell looks at Mike Grell’s ‘Tarzan’ newspaper strip, he only moved on when he was refused a pay rise after discovering his pay was still the same as when Burne Hogarth had done it in 1953!

As you can tell, I’ve learnt a lot about American newspaper strips here. I think it might have been useful to have had an additional article examining the problems of doing newspaper strips compared to comicbook pages. It might get better pay but it’s a lot harder work for the artist and tight deadlines. The real money is made by getting syndicated in as many newspapers as possible, a situation that might be more difficult these days. A useful edition to learn from.

GF Willmetts

July 2020

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $10.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $10.95 (US))

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Category: Comics, Magazines

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About UncleGeoff

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 21 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’
If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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