Friday, 1 July 2016

Batman, The Teen Titans & The Runaways



Unfortunately, there never was an issue of B & B where Bats met Joan Jett, but Bob Haney gives her old band a cheeky namecheck here anyway. No, this is from the era where the Teen Titans were in the doldrums, having had their book cancelled a couple of years before, and now were resorting to the odd guest slot and offscreen mention.
So Bob and Jim Aparo brought 'em back here, although Wonder Girl and Kid Flash spend most of the story out of costume, which hardly seems fair and annoyed me intensely at the time. Marvel did the same thing in that early issue of Team-Up with the X-Men running around in their civvies for no good reason. If you haven't seen a favoutite character or characters for a while, you want them to do the hits, so to speak. Anyway, this is, of course, wonderful stuff regardless, and surprisingly for a Haney story even makes sense.
Still think we got swizzed on the costume front, though.



















Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Friday Foster



Here's gorgeousness. Friday Foster was a newspaper strip that ran from '70 to '74, and as written by Jim Lawrence and drawn by Jorge Longaron ( and Gray Morrow ), is just about the grooviest, funkiest thing ever. It's a safe bet I'd've completely ignored this strip as a kid ( ' Fashion?! Girls?! Yecch! ' ), but these days I can't get enough of it, and can almost hear the wacka wacka guitar riffs while reading it. But what's it about? Over to Friday:


You said it, soul sister. Is it too much to ask that, one time, Friday was walking through Times Square and took pics of Luke Cage bustin' up that cinema he used to live above? That's where I'm at with this one, particularly in the beautiful Harlem street scenes in this, the first batch of Sundays.
In what would seem to be blaxpoitation heaven, the mighty Pam Grier played Friday in the movies, but by all accounts, it's not that great, so best to stick with Longaron's beautiful designs and linework. Oh yeah, and when you get to the aforementioned street scene, isn't it blatantly obvious that the street punk threatening Friday's slightly patronising boss is actually supposed to be waving a knife around? Some editor sure objected to that panel.





















Monday, 27 June 2016

Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love



Another genre that got big play in the Bronze Age, and that went almost completely ignored by our gang, was that of Gothic Romance novels, then dominating the shelves of supermarkets everywhere.
Marvel had half a go at it, with Gothic Tales Of Love, a text and illustration magazine that lasted only three issues, but DC initially went at it full tilt, with The Dark Mansion Of Forbidden Love.
DC, of course, were old hands at both romance and mystery titles, and had really sown up comics-code approved horror with House Of Mystery, House Of The Secrets & The Witching Hour, so female centred gothic wasn't that much of a leap.
Each issue of DMOFL presented a complete 'novel-length' tale of romance and mystery, and though it's slightly churlish to say that all genre tropes were fully in place, ( spooky house, handsome brooding male lead, terrified but still plucky female lead ) it's how they played out that makes them fun. Besides, what genre doesn't have it's own cliches.


Dark Mansion didn't last long, unfortunately, for some reason failing to find an audience, and was transformed into the more anthology themed, and less romantic Forbidden Tales Of Dark Mansion.
That was good too, but it's a shame this didn't work, as these are nice little mystery mementoes of a simpler, and more varied, time in comics.
The first issue is written in part by Dorothy Woolfolk, a fascinating character who was an editor at DC, Timely and EC, and who sort of invented Kryptonite, amongst her other accomplishments.
It's drawn by Tony Dezuniga, and it might just be one of the best things he ever did, being beautiful and atmospheric and superbly spooky.
Settle down in front of the fire, pour a glass of wine, and indulge.