Monday, 16 October 2017

The Man With Superman's Heart - Censored By The Comics Code Authority

Here's an odd one, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the story itself is completely whackadoo in the best late Silver / early Bronze Age tradition. Superman is dead, and presumably he's got an organ donor card, so there's some debate as to who should be the recipient of his bits and pieces.
At first, you do keep flipping back to the splash page to make sure you haven't missed that familiar caption stating ' Don't worry, readers, this is an imaginary story. It didn't happen, but what if it did?'
But no, this is actually occurring for real, so you're left with that old letdown plot-twist where it's all a scam by Supes for some lame reason he'll explain in the disappointing following issue. And sure enough, that's exactly what happens.
Still, it's all a lot of crazy fun while it's going on.
But just as interesting is the 2nd panel on p.6. Check it out, could Ross & Mike really not think of a Comics Code approved way to draw that panel? This is the only time I recall ever seeing something like this. How about you?

Friday, 13 October 2017

X-Men: In The Shadow Of Sauron

A stop-off now at Neal Adams' groundbreaking X-Men run with Roy Thomas, a too short series that hit my gang like a bolt from the blue.
I don't why, but this particular run was really difficult to get hold of in our town, making it even more legendary and precious when one of us actually managed to get an issue.
I don't which one of my pals secured In The Shadow Of Sauron, but I know it wasn't me, and I remember poring over a borrowed copy like it was The Holy Grail, astonished by the art, the colours, and this incredible new villain.
As we know, to parents and non-fans, a comic is a comic is a comic, but for a few months back then, there were comics, and there was Neal Adams' X-Men.
This was 3-D comics, like nothing we'd ever seen before, and something I could only dream of owning. It was like the newsagents in our town knew which comics would be legendary, and deliberately bought low stocks of them for some nefarious reason. Couldn't get X-Men, couldn't get Nick Cardy's Teen Titans, and as for the death of Gwen Stacy, forget it.
I've mentioned before how the double-sized X-Men #137, where Jean Grey died, was never distributed to our town, which drove us all insane. Well, Thomas & Adams' X-Men was like that, but much, much worse.
Or was it that someone else, even then, was going round buying up multiple copies?
Anyway, this is still a great comic, and to this day, whenever Sauron pops up in a mutant book, little me can't help gasping 'It's Sauron!' like Elvis has just entered the building.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Billy The Cat ( & Katie )

Finally located some full strips of The Beano's ace crime-fighting team Billy The Cat ( & Katie ), from, so here's a couple of stories from the Beano annuals.
Let's recap: Billy The Cat ( & Katie ) were kind of the Daredevil & Black Widow of British comics, but for much younger readers.
When crime reared it's ugly head, cousins William & Kathleen Grange inexplicably gained awesome acrobatic powers ( and pervy leather cat-suits ) and took to the rooftops of Burnham to kick D.C. Thompson approved ass.
Which was lucky, as for a sleepy little market town, Burnham had almost as many bank robbers and escaped convicts as Midsummer Murders has psycho killers, and how they ever found the time to get their homework done is beyond me.
But as a small sprog, I thought they were great, and asked my Mum to buy me a school satchel just like the one Billy kept his costume in, just in case anyone tried to rob our local bank too.
Of course, being posh upper class kids in blazers, Billy & Katie were soon replaced in most kids affections by the much grittier Leopard From Lime St. ( well, grittier for kids' comics anyway ).
It represents a world long gone now, or indeed a world that never really existed, but the catlike cousins still have an undeniable charm. Billy even winks at the reader just like Superman used to do. Who does that anymore?

Friday, 6 October 2017

Gold Key's King Kong

Gold Key's adaptation of King Kong was released in 1968, but in 1979 I was on holiday at a caravan park somewhere, and inbetween the inevitable issues of True Crime and Titbits, came across a large format reprint with no mention of any publisher anywhere on it. Caravan parks in the '70's were always great for unexpected comics you'd never heard of.
Anyway, this is arcetypal Gold Key, even if you hadn't spotted a typically beautiful painted cover from George Wilson, and interior art from Alberto Giolitti, as it came complete with those unlined panel borders that always told you it was Gold Key you were reading.
Wilson was the company's premier cover artist ( look up The Phantom #8 on the GCBD to see him playing the bad guy about to slug The Ghost Who Walks from behind ), while Giolitti was, of course, the artist behind Star Trek ( even though he never apparently saw the show until years after doing still the best version in comics ). So you know this is gonna be good.