Saturday, March 31, 2007

Readers Create Monsters!

The Canadian Comic Fan Project, Part 4

This time out, reader submissions to Space Family Robinson: Lost in Space published by Gold Key Comics. A fun reader participation gimmick, "Reader's Create Monsters" tied-in nicely with the comics' science fiction theme and gives a new meaning to "fan art". Two of the above submissions, the "Po-Go Champ Monster" and "The Thorn Bird", were created by Canadian readers. They appeared in issue # 25 of Space Family Robinson, published December 1967.

Where are they now?

Kenny Quercetti
North Burnaby

Cathy Rawlings

As well, the letters page of the same comic lists several letter writers whose letters were not published, including:

Wade Nott
Vancouver, BC


Matt Viceri
Montreal, Quebec

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Felix the Cat

A friend of mine is selling some older Felix the Cat items ebay.

Cartoonist and animator Otto Messmer created Felix the Cat for Pat Sullivan's animation studio in 1919 and Felix first appeared in November 1919 in a short silent film called "Feline Follies". He was a big hit and some people say he inspired the creation of Mickey Mouse. A comic strip, drawn by Messmer, began in 1923 and ran for decades. he strip was meant to appeal to kids for the most part but it was beautifully drawn and had some great fantasy and slapstick touches. There was a great Sunday strip as well and other artists helped out over the years, augmenting Messmer's genius, including Joe Oriolo. Toys, books, and various household items inspired by the character began appearing shortly after the first animated cartoons --the start of a marketing bonanza that continues to this day. (I think that Jay Stephens was working on a Felix project recently.)

Some of the older Felix merchandise is quite weird --often off-model and frequently scary. I think many people confuse some Felix toys with the incredibly more scarce Krazy Kat toys. The two items up for auction are a jointed wooden figure and a stuffed toy Felix with an insane grimace. I've never seen the stuffed Felix before --he has a wire skeleton and you can stand him up in the classic Felix "walking" pose.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Ides of March

ides of march classics illustrated panel

From Classics Illustrated #68, "Julius Caesar" by William Shakespeare. 1950/1969.
Most likely illustrated by H.C. Kiefer (?) a DC/Fawcett journeyman responsible for many classics.

Beware the ides of March.

comic book shakespeare julius caesar ides of march classics illustrated

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

I'm Short Measure

Cartoon alcohol is wonderful! Instructions to a box containing the Mr. Bartender bar set.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

On the Trail of the Superman, Part 2

2) Lost Superman Comic Strip Gems

It's not exactly Fletcher Hanks, but the old Superman comics make for fun and often bizarre reading. I have a small Mystery Hoard of Superman Sunday pages from the Toronto Star that are precious to me and I've also recently discovered the treasures to be found in the old Superman dailies. These old strips have great early art by the likes of Shuster, Curt Swan, and the sublime Wayne Boring, not to mention interesting scripts from the proudly-Canadian Alvin Schwartz.

I've linked to Jared Bond's wonderful Speeding Bullet site before --he's collecting all of the Superman newspaper comic strips online and often finds very interesting things. The strip was occasionally used as a testing ground for ideas that were later used to better or more memorable effect in the comic book. The first bald Lex Luthor and the first telephone booth costume change, for example, happened in the comic strips. Most of these strips have never been reprinted (there are two nice book collections of daily and Sunday strips dating from 1939 up to 1943, but nothing later is currently available). Most of these events are not documented anywhere (including most standard fan histories, Overstreet, etc).

The latest at Speeding Bullet? As Bond notes on a Superman discussion forum, he has uncovered several new "firsts" from 1958:

1) Brainiac
In April 1958 a storyline began involving an alien named Romado, who is clearly a prototype for Brainiac, who would first appear in Action Comics #242 (July 1958). Romado has a computer-enhanced mind, and collects miniature cities in bottles from around the galaxy. He has the shrunken Kryptonian city of Dur-el-va, which he traps Superman in.

2) Bizarro
Bizarro appears in the strips in September of 1958. Though Superboy #68 (cover date of October 1958) hit the stands earlier, this story was actually written first. In this early version, Bizarro has a "B" on his chest. What is creepy is that Superman convinces Lois to betray Bizarro and trick him into getting exposed to his version of kryptonite, which "kills" him. (Though as Superman says, how can you kill a shadow...)

3) Metallo
December 15, 1958 begins a new story of Professor Vale saving a patient from a horrible accident, and having to put in a mechanical heart, etc. to save him. He is powered by uranium pellets, with the possibility of some other rare mineral....I haven't read much of the story yet, as the year ends, but it is clearly the first Metallo story. This is winter 1958. In the comics, he first appears in Action Comics #252 (May 1959)