Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Action Comics Auctions: Astonomical - A'S'HGACB:SH*

*This is part of a semi-regular series in this blog "A 'Slight' History of Golden Age Comic Books: Super Heroes". To catch up on the other posts, click the label in the right hand column or at the bottom of this post, abbreviated to A'S'HGACB:SH.

Just recently (around a month or so ago) a copy of Action Comics #1 sold at auction for $1,000,000. THAT'S BILLION WITH AN "M", PEOPLE! An extravagant amount, especially considering the previous high-dollar mark was in the $300,000's. A few days later, a copy of Detective Comics #27 (the first appearance of Batman) sold for even more than THAT and just this week another copy of Action #1 went for an all time new record of 1.5 million.

This chain of events was discussed this week when I had a few beers with the golden age of comic book super heroes down at The Drink Hole.

Whatever it may have been, I'd like to express my thanks to the new followers to my blog this past week and to my fellow bloggers who have added this humble blog to their "Blog Rolls" on their own pages. It's much appreciated!

See y'all tomorrow!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

"That's My Life in Amarillo" - There's nothin' to see and nothin' to block the view!

Well, we finally got it hammered out!

The morning after rehearsal, my nephew Scott Michael Campbell got me a rendition of his friend Brad Hunt's original song, "That's My Life in Amarillo".

The video has a little of that "80's Dockers commercial" wobble to it (unintentional) and the SUPER microphone on my camera picked up some impromptu percussion from Scotty's dad Gary while doing dishes, but we proved ourselves out once again to be the "One Take Wonders".

This is such a great song. Not picking on Amarillo per se at all, it's a common experience a lot of people have I think. That feeling of being stuck, whether in a big town like Amarillo (more specifically out on the Texas panhandle) or a small town, and where you're at physically just don't match where your head wants to be at.

My favorite line: "There's nothin' to see, and there's nothin' to block the view".

Good stuff!

Thanks Scotty and thanks Brad!

See y'all tomorrow!

Monday, March 29, 2010

"Sister", Gary and Nephew Scotty

Happy Monday everyone!

You're probably all at work on this fine day, but I took the day off. My sister is in town and I came up to Los Angeles to visit with her and my brother-in-law Gary at their son, Scotty's house.

You may remember seeing Scotty here on my outing to the Todd Snider concert (Scott being the one who was booted out after the opening act) and he was also the director/cinematographer on the "I Love Rachel Ray" video found here. Scotty moved here from Montana around 1990, just a few years after I made my trek. Though while my goal was to get some place where it didn't snow 7 months of the year, Scotty ventured here to find fame and fortune in big time show business! He's done well for himself and makes a respectable living doing what he loves. You can check up on some of Scotty's credits here at his imdb page.

A few years ago Scotty played a song for me called "That's My Life in Amarillo" written by a friend of his Brad Hunt that I really like a lot and he promised to sing it for me on this trip.

We had an attempt last night to get it down on video and we will get it down for real today, but for now here's that rehearsal footage.

See y'all tomorrow!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Under Cover Super Hero - A'S'HGACB:SH*

*This is part of a semi-regular series in this blog "A 'Slight' History of Golden Age Comic Books: Super Heroes". To catch up on the other posts, click the label in the right hand column or at the bottom of this post, abbreviated to A'S'HGACB:SH.

OK, OK, I promise to all the lawyers at Time-Warner that I won't really be posting every Superman appearance as my "Slight" History continues. These first few are sooooooooo intriguing to me though, that I think they deserve a good look and a share with all of you. In deference to the powers that be, if you'd like to read every golden age Superman story, please check out the Superman Archive series published by the big boys.

It's now August of 1938 in our timeline and Superman and Zatara make their 3rd appearance in Action Comics #3. There's a couple of interesting things to note here as the novelty of the character of Superman (super powered being, dressed in tights, being from another planet, etc.) is still a gamble on the part of the publisher. They know NOT what they hath wrought!

It's evidenced in a couple of things here. For one, production was far ahead of what the businessmen could keep up with methinks. The Superman character was ALREADY after 2 months proved such a popular character, that they added an offer to join the "Supermen of America" club (at the bottom of page 13...wish I had that center spread). But the logistics of production still had them forging ahead with a cover that did not feature their newly popular character.

Another sign that the powers that be were still hedging their bets is in the execution of the story itself. The first 2 issues had been culled from the story that Siegel and Shuster had been working on for the character for 3 or 4 or 5 years and was an extended pure form of the stories they wanted to tell of this fantastic super being in the blue tights. THIS story has every one's favorite Kryptonian going undercover. 13 pages of, yes good deeds and bursts of amazing abilities, but without the flash of the union suit. This smacks of the editors not being sure that the readers wanted something quite so spangly and outrageous.

I have no evidence of this, it's just my theory, but think about it. If the suits had been having good success for years producing stories of good guys fighting for the right, they may have seen making it all TOO out of the ordinary as being a distraction and a detraction. They hadn't yet realized that after all those forays into the super hero (see earlier posts in this series on "Prototypes of the Comic Book Super Hero"), that this new medium of story and art all in the long form of 10-13 page stories was finally the place to sink their teeth into this new breed of hero. For all the flash of what comic books would become, this "under cover" story seems a little pedestrian, but I think only because the suits were afraid to make the plunge.

But they very soon would.

I'd like to hear from any of you who know more about this period to see if my theory is correct or if I'm just talking out of my butt. In either on!

If I had that center spread, I'd fill it out and send it in.

A true sign that the Golden Age of the Comic Book Super Hero had begun. Fan appreciation!

This brings us to the end of the first summer of the Golden Age of Comic Book Super Heroes. I don't have a copy of the Zatara story from this issue but here's some more miscellaneous stories of "The Clock" to bring us all up to speed on more of what was hinted at with this character.

These little two page detective stories were the extent of the flushing out while being published by "Comics Magazine Publishers" (later "Centaur"), the true evolution for him would be coming in a few months when he was sold to "Quality". These little two pagers that were continued from month to month are another sign to me that publishers were still unaware of the impact that the masked crime-fighters would have. Still warily dipping their toes in unsure waters.

I'm heading up to Hollywood in a couple of hours to visit family. I will do my best to do a post tomorrow, goodness knows there will be plenty happening "Inside My Head" whenever a family visit happens.

Worst case is, I'll see y'all the next day!

Take care!!!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The GOOD Duck Artist - Carl Barks!

Born March 27, 1901, Carl Barks would have been 109 years old today!

During my series on the "History of Golden Age Comic Books" I am focusing on the super hero genre, but there were a lot of other things happening in other fields of comic books at the time. Like a lot of comics, they were often published without a byline, especially in the field of humor comics. Even more especially in the line of Disney comics.

Walt was after all working hard to "brand" everything that came out of his studio, so most every thing simply said "by Walt Disney". This was a great way to gain a footprint in the publics' consciousness, but the downside was, allot of great artists went unheralded. The deal was though, that even we feeble minded comics readers could tell one issue was drawn by someone different that another issue, and though he was unidentified, Carl became known for his work on Donald Duck stories as "The GOOD Duck Artist". The public discovered his true identity as comics fandom grew in the 1960's and 1970's, and fandom was able to let Carl know how much he was appreciated.

Carl Barks went to work for the Walt Disney studio in 1935 working as an inbetweener animator and eventually a story man, working closely with Donald Duck director Jack Hannah. So closely, in fact, that when Western Publishing was doing it's first Donald Duck comic book for United States publication, it was Jack who did half the book and Carl who did the other.

By 1942, Carl was becoming unhappy with the war time working conditions at the studio (money was tight and the war department took over a lot of the studio to produce content for them), and he had also suffered from am on-going sinus condition which was aggravated by the air conditioning in the studio. He opted to resign his job at Disney and move to Hemet, CA. (still the arm pit of the Inland Empire) and become a chicken farmer.

He didn't do very well as a chicken guy, so to subsidize himself he contacted Western Publishing again to see if they had any more work. Carl went to work on Donald Duck comics and didn't stop until 1966!

Carl's was influenced by adventure story tellers like Hal Foster's work on Prince Valiant, so his duck stories began to more and more incorporate adventure into the humor of Duckburg. His classic stories of Donald Duck and his nephews going on grand adventures are legendary in the world of comics. At one point he invented a one-shot character for a Christmas story, Donald's Uncle Scrooge McDuck. This one-shot character took off and Carl's Uncle Scrooge is probably the most famous Disney character NOT to be created for animation, but who was really born from a Hemet chicken farmers pen.

There are lots of bigger appreciators of Barks than I who know a lot more about the incredibly detailed stories he did. Lots of folks still talking about him 10 years after he passed away too.

Doug Grey over at his great blog "The Greatest Ape" has done a number of postings about Carl, check them here!

Coincidentally, over at the "Ten Cent Dreams" blog, Lysdexicus is focusing this week on comics with giant robot antagonists and protagonists, and just yesterday spotlighted a Barks Uncle Scrooge/giant robot story! Check it out here!

Here's my contribution to the Barks birthday! Click the pics to won't be sorry!

Lots of stuff to see, but hell man, it's Saturday! Take your computer out to the back yard and sit under a tree and have some adventure with Barks' Ducks!

Thanks Carl! For taking the time to fill your comics with so much!

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