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   Now in our eleventh calendar year!
   PCR #516 (Vol. 11, No. 7). This edition is for the week of February 8--14, 2010.

"The Wolfman" †by Mike Smith
Tales for Another Day: Night of the Badfinger †by ED Tucker
Comic Book Craze Part 2: From DC to Dark Horse †by Chris Woods
50 Ways To Leave Your Lover †by Lisa Scherer
Japanese Directors: Then and Now †by Jason Fetters
Valentine's Day Massacre! †by John Miller
Congrats! .... Movie Notes .... And One From Music .... Welcome To Kansas City .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf †by Mike Smith
Growing Up Fanboy

Comic Book Craze Part 2: From DC to Dark Horse

Last month I wrote about my love of comics. I highlighted all the Marvel comics I collected when I was a kid. This month, I pick up where I left off and discuss other comic brands I collected such as DC, Whitman, and many others. A quick rehash from last month on my comic book collecting status, I havenít collected comics on a regular basis since 1987. I bought a few new comics after that here and here until the mid-90ís. Now, from time to time, Iíll pick up an old back issue of Spider-man or Hulk at the local comic show. Right now, I want to reflect on some of my comics from my childhood that are non-Marvel and I want to start off with the comic giant, DC Comics.

My very first comic I got was from DC and it was way back in 1975. That comic was an issue of Worldís Finest. The comic debuted back in 1941 and was originally called Worldís Best Comics, then switched to Worldís Finest by issue #2. The comic was an anthology that featured stories from superheroes such as Superman, Batman and Robin, and others, but mainly featured The Man of Steel and The Dark Knight. I remember getting a few of these issues that year. Next to Spider-Man and Hulk, Superman and Batman were my favorites as well.

Superman and Batman comics

I was also big in collecting anything with those DC characters throughout the rest of the 70ís and the early 80ís. If it had Superman or Batman on the cover I would pick it up, whether it was an Action Comics featuring Superman or Detective Comics featuring Batman or just their self titled comic, you couldnít go wrong with any of those comics. These two DC giants started back in the 1930ís. Superman debuted in Action Comics in 1938 and Batman debuted in Detective Comics the following year. I was introduced to both these characters in the comics, but also from TV. I use to watch reruns of the 1960ís Batman TV show everyday and on Saturday mornings I always watched the Superfriends that featured Batman and Robin, plus Superman, Wonder Woman and Aquaman. DC also put out a comic book version of the cartoon that I also collected.

Other DC comics I bought were The Brave and the Bold, which was kind of like Marvel Team-Up that featured two different DC superheroes teaming up every issue. I would often buy the ones that featured Batman. Wonder Woman was another one I collected and was a big fan of the TV series at the time. Wonder Woman was first featured in All Star Comics in 1941 and along with Superman and Batman has been continuously published by DC Comics since the company started. Aquaman, Green Lantern/Green Arrow, and The Flash were a few other superheroes I read up on in the DC Universe.

A variety of DC comics

One of my favorite comics I have is DCís reprint of a Dick Tracy comic. This was a giant size comic that DC put out. Like Marvel, during the 70ís DC would publish many different king-sized comics. I had a few Batmanís and this one of Dick Tracy. I got them when I was real little, so pretty much all of them went through hell and donít have the covers on them anymore or the first few pages. The Dick Tracy one was the origin of one of his most famous archrivals, Flattop. The comic is very dark in tone and violent. The story telling and characters were great, especially Flattop. They did an excellent job introducing him and did a good job in the portal of the character. In the story, Tracy is kidnapped by Flattop, but then rescued with Flattop getting away and the rest of the comic is Flattop running from Tracy and the law. The comic is a great read because of its compelling story and is still one of my favorites. I wish they would have made this comic issue a movie, instead of the horrible Warren Beatty film from 1990.

I remember getting a lot of Superman comics around the time the motion picture came out, but towards the early 80ís I stopped all together with collecting any DC comics. Didnít really have a reason, I guess I just preferred Marvel over them and all the main ones I collected from month to month was from Marvel. In the mid-80ís I did start to get a few V comics that DC put out, because I liked the series, but I only remember getting a few.

Pages from the Dick Tracy comic

Another brand I collected from was Whitman Comics, also known as Gold Key. The company started in 1962 and folded in 1984 and even though it had many original comics, its most famous ones were adaptations of cartoons and TV shows. I would mostly get Whitman comics in a three pack they sold in department stores. I got a lot of Disney, Looney Toons, and Walter Lantz comics, but the ones that I was most fond of were the horror and sci-fi comics like Ripleyís Believe It or Not! and Boris Karloff: Tales of Mystery. These two comics were in an EC Comics format, with about five or six tales throughout. Whitman also put out a comic book version of the 1979 Buck Rogers TV show. I got the first few issues of the comic that was a three part series based on the film that came out that same year. I also had a few Star Trek comics that Whitman put out. The comics were based on the original 1960ís television series. In edition to a few comics of that series, I had a thick book of Star Trek reprints that Whitman put out in the 70ís.

Other comics I often picked up were from Harvey Comics. They formed in 1941 and stopped publishing over fifty years later in 1994. Their most famous characters were Casper the Friendly Ghost, Baby Huey, and Little Audrey, just to name a few. The ones that I had were from the late 70ís or early 80ís and were Richie Rich and Casperís friend, Hot Stuff the Little Devil. I also had a number of Archie comics, which were published by the company simply known as Archie Comics. They were founded in 1939 and still going strong today. Archie started off in a comic called Pep Comics in 1941, then got his own comic the following year. The few comics I had were from the mid to late 70ís.

A variety of Whitman comics

Charlton Comics was a company that started in 1946 and would change their name to Modern Comics in the 80ís. DCís graphic novel, Watchman had characters based on the ones from Charlton comics. In 1985, DC acquired the rights of some of the characters from the company. One of those characters was Captain Atom who debuted in 1960 in the comic book Space Adventures. I have one of his comics I got back in the 70ís, but for some reason I never got any others. When the company changed to Modern, they did a Voltron comic. Being a fan of the cartoon, I gave the comic a look. I remember it being so-so and only got one issue. Modern Comics closed its doors in 1985.

Even though this is considered more of a magazine, it actually started as a comic in 1952 and was first published by EC Comics. The mag Iím referring to is MAD Magazine. I had a few issues of the humor mag, which a few came from the 60ís that were old issues my uncle had. I often bought ones that had parodies from my favorite movies like, Star Wars or Indiana Jones. I also liked the MAD Fold-ins in the back of the magazine, which were very clever and hilarious.

After my days of comic book reading, I did buy a few comics here and there, like I mentioned earlier. This was during the early to mid-90ís and most of these were non-super hero comics. The comics that I picked up were a variety of horror, movie, TV, or music based and was mostly from short-lived comic companies that started in the 80ís. Three of these companies, Revolutionary, Malibu, and Innovation all were defunct by 1994. I guess that was a very bad year for comics.

Comics from Dark Horse, Modern, and Harvey

Revolutionary Comics was best known for publishing Rock ĎNí Roll comics. These comics were unauthorized biographies on a band or singer that were geared towards adults, because the comics contained profanity, nudity, violence, and drug use. I bought a two-issue bio on The Doors, which was very good. The second part is the better issue, because the first part is everything youíve seen or read in books, documentaries, and movies at that point in time. Issue #2 starts in late 1969 and goes past Jim Morrisonís death and follows The Doors legacy. Revolutionary Rock ĎNí Roll series was all done in black and white and had fantastic illustrations.

Malibu Comics was most known for their Ultarverse line of super-heroes that had a cross overs with super-heroes from the Marvel Universe. Malibu also published comics based on sci-fi, horror, and action films. I remember they did a Bruce Lee comic that I have an issue of. Innovation Comics had original series, but was most known for their adaptations of horror movies, TV series, and novels and also sci-fi TV shows. Comics I got from them were A Nightmare on Elm Street and Quantum Leap. Innovation was the second company to bring Freddy to comics, the first one was Marvel.

Now Comics, that also started in the 80ís had a little more lifespan then the three previous companies and lasted until 2005. They mainly published comics based on movies and TV shows. I only have one comic from Now, which was Fright Night, that I got sometime in the 90ís. Around that time I picked up a copy of a reprint of The Vault of Horror. They were plenty of reprints of the classic EC comics around and I wish I got a few more, but those are on my list the next time I go to a comic convention. Another classic horror brought to comics was Night of the Living Dead. I wrote about this in another article, The Night of Living Dead Experience, how a company in Upstate New York, FantaCo, released a four part series Night of the Living Dead comic. The comic was, like the film, in gritty black and white and captured the film perfectly. FantaCo, which started in 1978, published a variety of comics from horror, sci-fi, and comedy. They also published a number of horror books and magazines. The company closed in 1998.

Comics from Now, EC, Innovation, Revolutionary, and Malibu

Last but not least is a company that is arguably the third largest known comic book empire, Dark Horse. The company, that was started in 1986, has published adaptations to many popular films and television series and also put out original material like Hellboy, Sin City, 300, etc. The only comics I got from Dark Horse were the Star Wars ones. After Marvel stopped publishing Star Wars comics, Dark Horse picked up the licensing and adapted the Star Wars Universe to their comics. Unlike Marvel, Dark Horse published a variety of Star Wars titles and even had ones just based on a certain characters. I collected a few Star Wars titles, which were very good from what I remember, but I prefer the ones that Marvel put out overall.

I have many fond memories of my comic book days. From Marvel to DC and all other points in-between, comic book collecting was a big part of my childhood and the comics I got back then I treasure today. Every time I go to the local comic con and I look through hundreds of classic comics, it brings me back to a time when comics were great, exciting, fun, filled with great art and fantastic stories. It also brings me back to a time when those comics were a big part of my life. As the great Stan Lee once wrote, ĎNuff said.

"Growing Up Fanboy" is ©2010 by Chris Woods.   All graphics this page, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.