Back Issue #150 April 2024 (magazine review).

As you can tell from the cover of this latest issue of ‘Back Issue’, it is a reminder of when DC Comics had 100-page specials and did similar with the page count. I wonder what’ll happen when they do DC Comics Dollar Specials, although, as I’ve reviewed #57 recently, that’s actually been covered.

Editor Michael Eury points out that sales of ‘Back Issue’ go up whenever they are covering Batman, so this one is full of the Dark Knight and the various artistic interpretations not covered earlier. The editorial points to the 24 issues you might have missed for the rest.

Writer Ed Catto looks at artist Irv Novick (1916–2004), who, while working at DC Comics, was given the same conditions as a regular worker to keep him there. He was also the alternative rotating artist to Neal Adams and was also part responsible for Batman’s changes, making him leaner, and handled Robin’s separate adventures, amongst other things. Part of his job and examples shown here were in cover design, essentially doing now editor-in-chief Carmine Infantino’s previous job.

Writer Steven Thompson looks at the artwork and history of Bob Brown (1915–1977). I have to confess I wasn’t that impressed by his later work at Marvel and only got to see his DC Comics work much later, which was a lot clearer. A lot always depends on the inkers given and those who adapt the best.

Frank Robbins (1917–1994), as both artist and writer Brian Martin points out, had an acquired taste. As a writer, he came up with Alfred Pennyworth’s surname, among other things, in his Batman scripts. His artwork, though, was especially quirky and only really worked in Marvel’s ‘The Invaders’ comicbook series, mostly because it needed a quirky look to match the 1940s comicbooks. Modern-day comics are less so.

Writer Ed Lute also covers one of the three anti-drug comics that never saw print. This one was by Denny O’Neil and Frank Robbins, with Batman pointing out to some youths the dangers of taking drugs. This was done in 1974, but none were printed, and there is no reason why. It isn’t like they or Marvel hadn’t printed comics on such issues before.

The article on editor/penciller/inker Dick Giordano (1932–2010) by writer Michael Eury shows what a mainstay he was to Batman. Purely as an inker, he gave consistency to the Dark Knight and even fitted in some pencilwork himself, especially in the number of times he drew the origin. I liked how Terry Austin described to Giordano the differences between Batman and Superman, making the former more muscular and the latter thinner. It’s a good point. I mean, Superman could be nine stones heavy and still be mostly unstoppable. Sorely missed.

Looking at writer James Heath Lantz’s piece on Bernie Wrightson, he did a very stylish Batman, although not in his regular book, other than covers, but in ‘Swamp Thing’. There’s also a sampling of his pencils, showing he didn’t put in panel lines but left the space instead.

I should point out that various artists are given up to a couple pages each with a little text but suitable examples of their art. The most impressive has to be a Batman sketch by Ramona Fradon, which is more traditional than her ‘Super Friends’ material.

Speaking of which, writer Dan Johnson has a look at the work of Alex Toth (1928–2006), whose work in the animation side’s character sheets defined the characters using few lines, which must have made the animators’ lives easier and then did a similar thing in the comicbooks.

Writer Jerry Smith goes over Walter Simonson’s Batman material and how it changed over the years. Simonson also had a bet with Bernie Wrightson about who could get away with the longest bat-cape, producing one that was several times his height, and no one thinks to call Batman the trip crusader because he would surely have tripped up had he run with it.

Finally, writer Roger Ash looks at the art of pre-Dark Knight Frank Miller when he drew more traditionally. It looks like I probably haven’t come across the early ‘Back Issue’ covering his change in art style yet, but, at the time, only Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz went so radically different after drawing the traditional way. If you don’t remember Miller’s earlier period, then this is a sharp reminder.

Oh, someone give Darkseid a dime so he can buy the anti-life equation.

GF Willmetts

April 2024

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing. 100 page illustrated magazine. Price: $12.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $12.95 (US))

check out websites: www.TwoMorrows.com and https://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_54&products_id=1763


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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