The importance of a comic book cover can never really be overstated. It's the first thing a potential reader sees, and especially back before we had solicitations and previews, in the days of newsstands --- and sour-lookin' newsstand owners who were quick to remind you that this ain't a library --- it was often a creator's only chance to convince them to pick it up and at least check out what was inside. Because of that, there are decades of comics out there that are either so bizarre that they pretty much demand to be read, like just about every Silver Age DC book, or books plastered with over-the-top dramatic titles like "And There Must Come... A Destiny!"
In 1945, however, things were a little different. So different, in fact, that the fine people at Fawcett Magazines once decided that it would be a good idea to use that precious bit of real estate on the cover of Captain Marvel Adventures to let you know that you were about to get a story where Captain Marvel went to Columbus, Ohio. Although to be fair, they also determined that this was less important than the story about an old man who found a piece of string on the ground.
Q: Aside from laying groundwork, most Golden Age stuff I've read is not very good. Are there any must-reads from the era? -- @TheKize
A: Listen, if you're having trouble getting into Golden Age books, I do not blame you. I've read my fair share of them over the years, and while I definitely think it's worth tracking down some of those early superhero comics if you're looking to broaden your horizons a little bit, I'll be the first to tell you that they can be hard to get into for a variety of reasons --- and as you said, chief among them is the fact that a lot of those old comics are just not very good.
Of course, you could say that about pretty much any era of comics and you wouldn't be far off from the truth. More than that, though, I think there's a big barrier that keeps the average reader from getting into those comics, and it has a lot to do with when, how, and why those comics were being made.
The thing about Dick Briefer's Golden Age Frankenstein comics is that if you start reading them from the beginning, there's just enough in there from the novel to make you think that he's doing a straight up adaptation of Mary Shelley. There's familiar stuff about Victor deciding to conquer death and stitching up a bunch of corpses, charging them up with lightning, and then the Monster's escape out in to a world that will never understand it, right down to the villagers with the pitchforks. It's three pages that make you think you know exactly what's going on.
And then, on page four, the Monster breaks into a zoo, punches out a lion, and rides off on an elephant, and that's when you realize that Frankenstein is on a whole other level of being completely bonkers.
Canada offers an impressive range of comics talents, but its comic industry has usually been overshadowed by the buying power of the U.S. market -- but for one brief period in modern history. During the Second World War Canada restricted the import of non-essential items -- and that included comic books. For much of the 1940s, Canadians could only read Canadian comics. The era has become known as the Canadian Golden Age.
Hope Nicholson was a researcher on a documentary about the characters created during this era, Lost Heroes. Fascinated by the subject, Nicholson and her partner Rachel Richey launched a project to restore and republish the stories of one of the first comic superheroines, Adrian Dingle's Nelvana of the Northern Lights. With that book now in print, Nicholson has launched a Kickstarter to revive another lost Canadian hero; the square-jawed action man Brok Windsor.
Classic Superman comic strips that have never seen the light of day outside of decades-old newspapers are getting the hardcover treatment from IDW, in partnership with DC Entertainment.
The publisher announced Tuesday it would reprint Sunday strips from the 1940s, '50s and '60s, starting with a volume covering 170 weeks from 1943 to 1946. Each book in the series will include an introduction by noted Superman lover Mark Waid and a cover by Peter Poplaski.
The comics medium attempts to answer a lot of big questions: What makes someone truly evil? What's wrong with childlike wonder? How, father? How do I do it? What do I use...to make them afraid? In that spirit, ComicsAlliance's Matt Wilson is asking comics creators, retailers and commentators some big questions of his own...
We've talked about Kerry Callen before for his amazingrenditions of what Marvel comics would look like if they'd been published in DC's Silver Age, but today, he's gone back even further to re-imagine the origin of Batman...
There are times when the everyday world gets too complicated and you need a little escape. Sadly, modern comics rarely provide this escape, with their incomprehensible continuity, angst-ridden heroes, and unhappy endings...
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