Jackie Estrada’s Kickstarter-Funded Comic Book People 2 Provides Unique Peek at Comics History
As a follow-up to last year’s well-received Comic Book People: Photographs from the 1970s and 1980s, longtime comics industry insider Jackie Estrada is running a Kickstarter campaign to fund Comic Book People 2: Photographs from the 1990s.
Both books offer a unique peek at the early days of comics conventions before they were big pop culture events, when the giants of the industry mingled casually with their peers and fans. high-quality hardcover coffeetable book will feature some 600 candid photos taken at comic conventions in the 1990s, along with commentary and anecdotes about each person. The book will be 176 pages, with mostly black-and-white images but a 16-page color section. Estrada’s goal is to raise $23,000 to cover the costs of design, production, and printing of 2,000 copies, along with shipping, distribution, and backer rewards.
“While the first book focused primarily on the San Diego Cons of the 1970s and 1980s, this one gives a glimpse into comics industry in the transitional era of the 1990s,” says Estrada. “This was the period when Image emerged, lots of new publishers got into the mix, and the self-publishing and indie comics movements really took off.” She notes that a number of Golden and Silver Age creators were still with us, and she includes photos of folks like Frank Frazetta, Carmine Infantino, Gene Colan, Al Williamson, Sheldon Moldoff, and Nick Cardy, to name a few. But it was also a time for new faces that are now familiar fixtures, such as Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Jeff Smith, Terry Moore, Colleen Doran, David Lapham, and Paul Pope.
It was during the 1990s that Estrada and her husband Batton Lash formed Exhibit A Press to produce his comics series Wolff& Byrd, Counselors of the Macabre (aka Supernatural Law). Many of the photos in Comic Book People 2 were taken at shows where they exhibited, from the Chicago Comic-Con and WonderCon to the Small Press Expo and APE, as well as from the San Diego Comic-Con.
Jackie has been both a comics fan and a photographer since the 1960s, and she has been to every San Diego Comic
-Con. Her involvement in comics has included editing publications for Comic-Con, serving as the administrator of the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards since 1990, serving as president of Friends of Lulu, and being the co-publisher of Exhibit A Press, which will publish Comic Book People 2. Her photos of comics creators have appeared in numerous books and publications, from Paul Levitz’s 75 Years of DC Comics and Julius Schwartz’s autobiography Man of Two Worlds to Alter Ego and Comics Buyer’s Guide. Most prominently, dozens of her photos were used in Dark Horse’s Comics: Between the Panels and in Comic-Con: 40 Years of Artists, Writers, Fans, and Friends. Most recently, her photos could be seen in the PBS special on the history of superheroes.
What a pleasure it was to not watch Gotham last night. I’m making an effort to limit the amount of brutal violence in my life and it was a great first step to give up eye-gouging for Lent.
Meanwhile, I really enjoyed Agent Carter, the mini-series spin-off of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. The feminist agenda was a little heavy handed at times (it was like watching Mad Men) but overall a nice period piece. I’m still wondering if 39 cents for two bars of soap was a little pricey for 1946, though I dug the vintage costumes and settings. Best of all, I loved seeing the Howling Commandos (sans Fury) in post-war battle action.
It was sad that Junior Juniper had to die. I may be mistaken but I think he’s the only Marvel character to die and stay dead. (So far.)
Of course I got chills when Dum Dum Dugan broke through a wall shouting “Wahoo!” the Howlers battle cry. You may be wondering where that came from. Wonder no more! There are many recorded versions of the song “Wahoo” and I’ll share one with you now and a couple more later. You’re welcome.
Here’s yet another Golden Age comic book series which mostly just reprinted comic strips, as well a another one that I never thought I’d ever get a chance to read, Sparkler Comics. It was published by United Media for 120 issues between July 1941 and December 1954,
First off, we get to see the very beginnings of Jack Starling’s wartime newspaper strip, Hap Hopper,
I said they mostly consisted of reprints because they also experimented with original material; for Sparkler Comics this began and ended with The Spark Man a.k.a.The Sparkman a.k.a. just plain Sparkman, a fairly standard masked vigilante who had a variety of electrical power things to his invention, a pair of gloves with the distinctive lightning rods attached to the index fingers. Though he did have a few points of actual interest.
Like, as it said on the cover, the comic waited until his 10th appearance to reveal that he was in reality Omar Kavak, classical violinist; you don’t see a lot of classical violinists go into crime fighting. Plus if we can go by the name Sparkman is the only Golden Age superhero whose secret identity was of Turkish descent.
He also belonged to that select subset of Golden age costumed heroes (Blue Bolt, The Face, etc.) who joined the military and gradually realized that costumed vigilantism was incompatible with military service, According to the Public Domain Superhero Wikia is was about this time he donned an “alternative costume”, something a little less comic opera and more appropriate for wartime.. Quite frankly I prefer this to the original one…
Though I’ve got to admit Alex Ross does a fine job of depicting it here.
But that costume was also soon abandoned and for the rest of his run he fought the war in the other kind of uniform, but he still called himself “Spark Man” for some reason.
And here’s an installment of Captain and the Kids by persons or persons unknown that has them forgoing sadistic pranks and instead getting involved in a more or less “serious” adventure.
I devoted a previous column to Bernard Dibble’s (a.k.a. Dibb) feature El Bombo about an innocent abroad, a kind hearted super strong South American having adventures in North Americans. When I did that I was under the impression it was original material but according to the Grand Comic Book Database (All Hail!) these were in fact “ Newspaper reprints modified to fit comic books”.
Why am I shining the Comics Tunes spotlight on George of the Jungle? Is it coming out on DVD? Are they making another live-action film? Are they rebooting the series and bringing it back to television? No, no, and uh-uh. There’s a very good reason why I had to discuss George of the Jungle this Tuesday. It’s because George of the Jungle has absolutely nothing to do with Gotham and I’m so sick and tired of complaining about that show.
This week we were treated to another eye-gouging. There’s a phrase I never thought I’d type: “another eye-gouging.” You’d think that gouging an eye would be something that comes up very, very rarely on a prime-time TV series about a children’s comic book character. But you’d be wrong, bat-breath! Eye-gougings are so commonplace on this miserable excuse for a television series that they’re actually getting boring. That’s why Fox and DC are upping the ante and taking the brutal, up-close violence to a new level of disgusting explicitness. Why I wouldn’t be surprised if next week’s episode featured a couple more eye-gougings that are even more shocking and nauseating than this week’s! But I won’t know. I don’t watch Gotham anymore as of yesterday. Blecchh!
Which logically brings me to George of the Jungle. Here’s a show based entirely on an ape-man swinging on a vine right into a tree. Every week, George smashes into a tree. Same tree. Every week. If it’s Saturday morning, George is going to collide with a tree. You can set your watch by it. They didn’t feel they had to gouge George’s eyes out in order to retain viewers. The tree collision was enough. Ah, the good old days.
George of the Jungle’s comic book lasted only two issues so we had to dig a little to find some visuals this week. This Spanish-language comic is especially interesting because here George is called Tristan Bejuco. Which, according to Google Translate, is the Spanish word for “Tristan Bejuco.”
George (or Tristan, as we call him) also appeared in America’s Best Comics which was a one-issue promotion for ABC television’s Saturday morning line-up. Note that this was years before Disney bought ABC and Marvel. Kind of prescient, isn’t it? Now Marvel characters not only appear on ABC, they’re both owned by the same company. Yet, Disney does not own George of the Jungle. Funny how things work out, huh?
Fans of George of the Jungle may want to turn back the clock and check out our previous post featuring a cover version of the theme song that may or may not be by Led Zeppelin (it’s not). You can find it by clicking here.
Now enjoy this week’s song and forget you ever saw Gotham.
Click the link below and be careful you don’t poke your eye out!
I’ve already posted several comics featuring my favorite Hanna-Barbara cartoon character, Huckleberry Hound, but this giveaway, Huckleberry Hound’s Kite Fun Book is intriguing for a couple of reasons. First it’s a neat little booklet from 1961, ”Published as a public service by Southern California Edison Company.” that teaches kids how to build a kite as well as the rules of kite safety. It’s a shame I didn’t see this when I was a kid because while I went through a kite flying phase every attempt was met with Charlie Brown levels of humiliating failure. Even when I had an adequate space for kite flying, which was infrequent, I could only keep my feeble crates afloat for roughly 3-4 minutes before they would inevitably crash. After a half-dozen attempts, I took a freaking hint and moved onto building models — something I was also horrible at.
Along with being informative the art is also wonderfully on model and Huck mostly in character. Though I don’t recall him having a nephew named “Pup” or living in a doghouse with “Huckleberry Hound’s House” carved into it.
We lost Gary Owens a little while ago. You probably remember him as the booth announcer on Laugh-In.
Gary has many connections to comics and cartoons as voice actor. Mr. Owens was the voice of Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost and the Blue Falcon.
Gary was also a cartoonist himself! But since this is Comics Tunes Tuesday, we’re interested in how Gary Owens’ career intersected with records and comics. Well, you need look no further than this very blog! We already spotlighted three tracks from an album called “Sunday Morning with the Comics” which you can hear here, here and here.
Note to trivia buffs and nitpickers: Gary’s Wikipedia entry, and virtually every other mention on Google, calls this LP “Sunday Morning With the Funnies” with the Jimmy Haskell Orchestra. Yet he’s called Jimmy Bowen on every copy I’ve seen. Is this an error? Or was there another version under a different name? It’s a honey of a mystery.
This time, we’re sharing the song “Wonder Mother” featuring Gary’s voice at the beginning.
The comic book of course started out as a collection of previously published comic strips and even after most publishers switched to a primarily original material format there were were still quite a few titles devoted to reprinting comic strips; Tip Top, Magic, Ace, The Funnies and Super Comics. It ran 121 issues and featured some of the biggest strips on the funny pages including Terry and the Pirates, Little Orphan Annie, Smokie Stover, Dick Tracy, etc. But of course me being me as per usual I’m more interested in the more obscure comic strips as well as the few original features.
Like Tiny Tim by Stanely Link about Tim Grunt and his sister Dotty, both of whom were only a couple of inches tall. It was mostly a kid’s melodrama strip but according to Wikipedia it became more of a straight adventure one where a gypsy grew them to “slightly less than normal size”. Tim then became kind of a superhero after the gypsy presented him with an amulet that allowed shrink down to two inches. According to Don Markstein’s Toonopedia site he even fought “evil would-be world conquerors”. I really hope I get a chance to read that version of the strip.
I’ve always been fond of Frank Willard’s Moon Mullins a “lovable, banjo-eyed lowlife at home in the sporting world” (to quote Wikipedia) but so far I’ve only been able to experience the strip in small doses, like this.
He’s an oddity, The Thief of Bagdad, an original Arabian Knights type strip by Erwin L. Hess who worked for Dell Publications on everything from Gang Busters to Roy Rogers but who also drew the Captain Midnight comic strip from 1942 to 1945.
Jack Wander by Ed Moore about a war correspondent.
Walter Berndts Smitty about an office boy.
Ken Ernsts Magic Morrow about a standard Tarzan who also happened to be a darn good sorcerer.
Holy eye-gouge, Batman! This episode of Gotham shows someone getting stabbed in the head! I didn’t even know that was possible until now. So not only is this weekly TV series brutally violent, it’s also educational!
At the risk of sounding like a broken record (get it?), I’m pretty much appalled at the level of off-putting, on-screen violence that’s seen on television these days. It just seems so unnecessary to me. When the villain is harvesting adrenal glands from his murder victims we don’t need to see him turn human body parts into a paste by squeezing them through a garlic press. Here’s how you handle a scene like that.
Medical examiner: “The villain is harvesting adrenal glands from his murder victims.”
Detective Gordon: “Ewww!”
See? It can all be handled in dialogue. We don’t need a close-up of human goo coming out of a Play-Doh Fun Factory to make that point.
It makes me wonder if the producers of this show (or worse, the viewers) have a thing for disgusting violence. Does it make them happy? Do they dance a little jig every time some woman has her eyes removed? Do they find blood and gore <gulp> entertaining? Good lord! [choke] Not since the days of EC Comics have we seen this kind of explicit ugliness, and that was on the printed page. Not on our screens accompanied by squishy sound effects.
But enough about that. Let’s turn back the clock and enjoy another of the countless Batman records from the 1966 TV show, where the graphics were sound effects and the sound effects weren’t so graphic.
As previously established I love old comic books and old comic strips so old comic books full of old comic strips hold a special place in my heart. Especially since most of these comics (Ace, Magic, The Funnies, etc.) have long been unavailable to me. But I recently came across a bunch of early issues of Tip Top Comics and, boy, do I like them. Published by the United Features syndicate it ran 188 issues between 1936 and 1954 and while in it’s final days it focused pretty heavily on Nancy and Sluggo during it’s early days it featured many well known and incredibly obscure comic strips.
Like Dirks The Captain and the Kids. The more I read of this iteration of the characters the more I prefer it to the better known The Katzenjammer Kids.
Burne Hogarth’s Tarzan. Full disclosure; this is a strip that I’ve always admired and appreciated more than actually liked.
I finally get a look at the very early days of Joe Jinks.
I haven’t had a lot of exposure to Bill Counselman and Charles Plumb’s Ella Cinder, a somewhat awkwardly drawn comic strip that was, as the title suggests with the subtlety of a clown hammer, is a contemporary version of Cinderella. Of much more interest to me is the strips “topper”, Chris Crusty which ran from 1931 to 1940 mostly because it’s just so darn strange; I’m still not sure whether Chris is a hapless everyman or a man on the verge of a psychotic break.
Little Mary Mixup was a gag strip about a little girl by Robert Moore Brinkerhoff than gradually became a light-hearted story strip that also gradually allowed the title character to age to a teenager by WWII.
Fritzi Ritz, sans Nancy.
I’ve never heard of Benny and as far as I can tell neither has the Internet. Which is a shame since it’s just so odd, not necessarily odd enough to be good, but odd as in “I’ve never seen anything quite like this before”.
Mr. and Mrs. Beans, another completely unknown strip that’s handsomely illustrated by person or persons unknown.
Billy Make-Believe by Harry E. Homan,
Peter Pat by Mo Leff,
Frankie Doodle, a fairly short run orphan on the run strip by Ben Batsford.
What’s faster than a speeding bullet? Who can outrun a locomotive? Of course I’m talking about The Flash who appears every week on the TV series The Flash. Why revisit this subject so soon? Why return to this topic so fast? Why repeat myself so quickly? Well, it’s all about speed.
It’s well-established that The Flash can run really, really fast. He’s just a blur when he runs by. He’s so fast he can run on water. He’s so fast he can run up the side of a building. After all, he’s The Fastest Man Alive. And this brings me to today’s quandary. Go with me on this.
The Flash is running so fast he’s just a blur.
Each episode follows the same pattern. There’s a new super-villain in town. (They call them meta-humans but we know what they are.) Whether it’s Captain Cold, Captain Heat, Captain Lukewarm or Captain Boomerang, it’s some guy with a wacky super power or a crazy weapon. The Flash fights the bad guy unprepared – and loses! Then he comes back and fights him again – and wins! Every week, the same deal.
In each case, The Flash confronts the villain in the street to settle the score face-to-face. Usually there’s some clever dialogue like “It’s the end of the line for you, Scarlet Speedster!” Then the evil-doer unleashes his weapon/power and nearly kills The Flash. Ouch!
Now I’ve been watching the show every week and it occurs to me that in each case (correct me if I’m wrong) The Flash could simply run up behind the bad guy at super speed and hit him in the head with a pipe. Game over!
Sometimes the villain even announces when and where the battle will take place. “Meet me at 8 o’clock at Fifth and Main and we’ll see who’s more powerful.” All The Flash has to do is get to Fourth and Main by 7:59, rush up behind the villain du jour, and bop him on the head with a tire iron.
I wasn’t the first one to think of this.
No matter who the bad guy is, no matter what their power, it works. Instead of this showdown in the street like an old Western movie (which gives the villain a second chance to attack) just run up in a blur and hit him with a brick. None of this “I’m putting you on ice, Captain Cold.” Just – boom! – and it’s over.
Maybe The Flash likes going mano-a-mano with his antagonist. Maybe he likes delivering lines line “I’m sending you back where you came from, Captain Boomerang!” But people’s lives are at stake here. The city is in danger. There’s no time for fooling around.
So I’m saying to you, Scarlet Speedster: Next time you have to defeat Captain Fog, Captain Rain or Captain Snowstorm, don’t get in his face. Circle the block and clobber him with a bat. It will happen so fast he won’t know what hit him.
And now, the theme from The Flash (the other one).