For Part # 7 of this series, I’ve come up with a very diverse selection of publications and comic-related material.This page covers foreign language items , pulp mgazines , newspaper comic strips from the heyday when comics were afforded enough space in newspapers to display some of the vibrant detail and bright ” spot blacks” in the original artwork. This is essentially a lucky-dip of oddments which I have pulled out at random.
The above photo displays some of the European compendiums which featured a diverse range of styles and stories. Some of these I picked up on holidays abroad years ago. I always liked to see how foreign comics were handled. The horror comics were very popular on the Italian newstands in the 1980’s and featured some very extreme horror and sexual graphic material which would never have seen the light of day in the UK or Ireland. Censor ship was obviously not a great concern in Italy and it was evident that these comics were not aimed soley at young children. Titles such as “Tin Tin” was probably named after the Herge character of that name . Others were, randomly, “Zack”, “Temp”, “L’uno”, “Boy”, “Fantagor” and “Orror”.
Peeking out of the photo can also be seen one or two of the UK- produced “Romance” comics .These were the same size as the little A5 “Commando” series and although generally aimed at teenage girls ,some of these featured lovely artwork by the likes of the late Jose “Pepe”Gonzales, who was best known for his take on the exotic “Vampirella” character for the USA’s Warren comics.His beautiful artwork was used in many girls’ comics and pop magazines which my sisters read and which I also consumed in the pop -obsessed 1960’s. that is when he first , unknowingly, came to my notice.
Below is an interesting couple of pages of the very English “Dare Dare” strip that originally appeared in the famous “Eagle” UK comic. In this instance he becomes “Den Deri”.
To continue my trawl through some items in my comics collection, I’ve pulled out some diverse comics , magazines and books which are well out of the modern comics mainstream and hark back to comics’ real “pulp” origins including many of the ideas that have influenced them and have been carried through from the storytelling days of comics’ first appearances, alongside the fat wood “pulp” magazines of the early 20th century . Although not strictly “comics” some of the science-fiction , detective and western magazine s ploughed that same seam of storylines and have many comparisons.the striking pulpy style of cover art was very arresting and impact- laden and was much emulated and copied by the comics.Some even featured a comic strip or two. The garish painted covers were later revived in the Warren Magazines of the 1960’s and 1970’s to much acclaim after the actual pulps themselves began to die away.
I have several comics and comic magazines which I’ve picked up from other countries and usually the production standards and paper stock are excellent . European publishers have, for the most part , treated the medium with great respect and have been well ahead of both the UK and America in this regard.Below are two copies of the esteemed “Corto Maltese” magazine from 1989 .This is a sturdy compilation featuring artwork by acclaimed artists such as Milo Manara, Hugo Pratt, Guido Crepax and Federico Fellini printed on excellent paper stock..
I have a few copies of “Look and Learn” magazine . This was a very worthy educational publication .It was a little staid but the artwork and production values were exemplary.The artwork , stories , articles and illustration were of the very highest quality but unfortunately it lacked the excitement of many other lesser comics and was never really regarded as worthy of collecting for that reason.The lone “Plavi” issue was something that i picked up as part of a comic job lot. I have n’t much information on this one
I loved Robert E. Howard’s sword and sorcery Conan stories ,as a teenager, especially those paperback collections which sported the vibrant Frank Frazetta covers ,so it was delight to see these same stories from those old pulp magazines of the 1930’s and 1940’s coming to life as comic stories in Marvel comics and magazines.The character has always been treated badly in any films attempted but he fared much better in the comic adaptations, being realised by some real talents. The covers were painted renditions for the magazines and the artwork interiors were rendered in black and white with stunning pen , brush , ink and wash work by some of the best comic artists working in the business. The highly successful Conan the Barbarian colour comic series spawned the more adult, black-and-white Savage Sword of Conan in 1974 (published as part of Marvel’s line of black and white magazines). These were written by Roy Thomas who’d begun as a comics fanzine editor earlier in the 1960’s with his Alter Ego fanzine and duly became a writer at Marvel comics as their output increased. Most of the art was handled by John Buscema or Alfredo Alcala but others such as Neal Adams and Barry Smith also featured .Savage Sword of Conan soon became one of the most popular comic series of the 1970s and is now considered a cult classic.
My introduction to EC comics was MAD magazine and the Signet paperback reprint books which became very popular in the early 1960’s. Most of the material was reprinted from the comics of the 1950’s. Later during the first flush of the underground comix, the East Coast Comix group really lit a fire under this old firm and set the reprint ball really rolling by issuing a selection of about a dozen of the iconic titles which had long-since fallen to the dull sword of censorship . There followed a remarkable book by Nostalgis Press and then the holy grail in the shape of beautifully presented boxsets , expensively printed , runs of every EC comic that had ever existed or been lost and all -but- forgotten except by the handful of creators ,who pioneered the underground comix of the late 1960’s.Most of these dealt with adult themes of crime , war, bigotry, sex, civil rights, violence, fantasy and science fiction .Every story was crafted and illustrated for dramatic effect and usually utilised an O’Henry type of “shock” ending . These came out initially in the early 1980’s and were imported from America, retailing usually at over £100.00 per set depending on how many volumes were involved .they even spawned their own television series later.
The “Shock Suspensestories” comics above were the entire comic’s run combined in a three volume set with full- colour covers for each issue and internal black and white artwork shot from the full sized crisp original work , rendered in pen and brush artwork. I have several of these boxsets.
Original comic strip and comic book artwork is also very collectible and I have a few pieces of these one-offs which originally saw print in the national press. As you can see the work is much larger in its original state , compared to the tiny space it was eventually forced to occupy in the newspapers.Please excuse the reflections in the photos.
Below is a selection of some of my pulp magazines from the 1950’s. Sometimes these included comic material too but were usually short story collections with painted covers. These are mostly “Astounding Science Fiction ” or “Detective Tales” collections, although I have several Western titles too.
Will Eisner’s “Spirit” character raised the bar in terms of artwork, writing and dramatic story layout. It originally featured as a full page newspaper section in America during the 1940’s and was then variously reprinted and updated throughout the succeeding decades. I first came across the character during the 1960’s but later Warren comics began a long run of magazine- style comics which really showcased the wealth of great stories and art that Eisner had produced. Will Eisner is seen as a true innovator of the form and is sometimes cited as the true originator of the “graphic novel” He has had a huge influence and has produced many other works.
This book below is currently retailing on Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/1613770987/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_sr?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr= at anything from £375.00 to £999.00 per copy (If you can find a copy for sale)…It is huge. It is actually the same size as the artist’s original work standing at about 22inches tall and it is shot from the original artwork and printed the same size as the artist worked, completely untouched. In that respect it is like having 144 very expensive pages of very original comics art which would be worth thousands of pounds sterling per page , held between two very sturdy covers. The binding and production is top of the range and cannot be faulted in any way. In this case the late Wallace Wood gets the full production treatment. The book is extremely heavy and unwieldy, given that it is reprinted from the original artwork and on similar heavy acid -free bristol board stock .It really needs its own lectern for greater reading ease and possibly an annex or a room for itself! Something of an heirloom this one …
To finish this selection I have unearthed a collection of my Western pulp magazines from the 1950’s . They are the kind of rip-roaring cowboy stories that my late uncle John would have revelled in and sport some very wildly emotive cover paintings.