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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Gothic

Remember about half a year ago I decided to make a side-step into late Silver and Bronze DC and try and collect a Batman run ?
Well it's been working out quite well for me and I'm making nice progress. I'm with issue #200 and ending the run at #350, at the moment I'm about 15 books short..So it should happen before the Summer

The really fun part has been, the lack of pressure...I've never had to actively seek Batman books out, I just bought a few when I was dealing on other books. When somebody had one or more books that I needed for
one of my Silver Age marvel runs, I always asked them if he didn't have any Batmans I was looking for...
Nice and easy way to collect.

I never dreamed it would be so easy, seeing as the start of the run is nearly 40 years old, but it was. Most books were very reasonably priced and easy to obtain. Of course once I get down to 4 or 5 issues left, I'll have
to let go of this free-flowing collecting vibe and actually start actively looking for the last books...

Anyway, I got no less than 22 issues the last two weeks..from various sources. I included some of the better cover scans to see what you are missing if you never got into Bronze Batman.






This is batman #227 and is the only difficult book to get out of the run, reason is the fantastic cover by Neal Adams. Adams went back to September 1939 and swiped the cover to Detective #31 and made his own
homage. Both covers have a wonderful gothic tone and thanks to the fact that the cover to Batman #227 is considered the best overal DC Bronze Age cover prices have gone out the window.
Guide for a VF/NM is about $44.00....You wont even be able you get a decent FINE for that price. Expect to pay about $200 for any copy that's even close to NM...it's a much loved book

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Friends of Ol' Marvel

If you are a Marvel Comics collector of the 1960's or 1970's then you know Marvel was always trying to get a lot of fan participation through the form of fan clubs.
The first one was the historic Merry Marvel Marching Society (M.M.M.S) started in 1965.
Later; in 1969 "Marvelmania" debuted, always more of a business than a labour of love for Marvel fans, it never really took off. Only 6 issues of the Marvelmania magazine were published and a lot of the merchandise advertised in the catalogs never came to fruition.

Probably the best thing about Marvelmania were the gorgeous posters. This merchandise and others could only be purchased by members . Now for some reason (availability, lack of interest, high price?) not a lot of them were sold and now some of these are very rare and very expensive.
Check out this link on eBay Steranko Captain America Marvelmania
If you read this more than three months from now, the link will be dead, let me just say The 1970 Steranko Captain America Marvelmania poster went for....$710.00

But probably the most loved and best known Marvel fan club was FOOM. Created by both Stan Lee and Jim Steranko, another talented artist at Marvel, it made its official debut in 1973. Readers already knew what FOOM stood for because it was the title of the popular magazine which had been in circulation for several months. Ads went out declaring that it was the "Ultimate" fan club for just $2.50.
FOOM lasted until the late 70's and was a huge success.
The FOOM magazine was a lot of fun, a fellow collector gave me a few issues a while ago and they are a great reading...Fan participation was very important and Marvel (Steranko and Lee) went all out to convey a spirit of community, of belonging even. I can imagine if you were a kid in the 70's, picking up a few Marvel comics every month, FOOM really made you feel at home.
A four-issue subscription was US$3. An additional dollar bought a club membership I.D. card, six decals, and a poster. Running 22 quarterly issues (Feb. 1973 - Fall 1978) FOOM touched the heart of many a young Marvel fans and a lot of today's creators were FOOM members as a kid and remember it fondly.

FOOM also went the poster way and made available 12 different posters. Classic covers with art by Buscema, Steranko, Colan, Windsor-Smith, Kirby, Romita, Severin & more. Truly a delight to behold.


Now Marvel learned a valuable lesson with the failure of Marvelmania and made sure there were enough posters to go round and that the price was reasonable. But again you had to be a FOOM member to be able to buy them (mail-order only). Now the FOOM merchandise isn't as expensive as the Marvelmania stuff, but prices have been creeping up during the last decade as supplies dwindle. I always wanted the FOOM posters, but I only wanted a full set of all 12 images and I wanted them to be in NM - MINT condition, unused.
A nice bit of trivia is that the full set of FOOM posters can be seen in the later "Mister Glass" gallery scenes of the movie "Unbreakable" starring Bruce Willis and Samuel Jackson.

Last week I managed to find just that and now have them here in my comics room. They look as if they came of the press yesterday rather than 37 years ago and I'm hesitant to flatten them and put them on the wall somewhere. They would make a very nice impact on the comics room...but it also would be like destroying a bit of history...

To be concluded.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

Zut alors!

Remember about a month ago I purchased my very first Captain America and was pleasantly surprised by the Kirby signature ? Well I enjoyed that book so much I decided to start collecting the series as well....yeah I know yet another Marvel series to complete


Anyway I've decided to go for #100 (first issue in series) through to #300...nice chunk of books. I'm already setting up deals to buy the later issues in larger quantities to save on shipping and am seeking out nice mid-grade copies of the first 50 or so issues.I was lucky to find these early Silver Age ones in decent shape and at a good price





Now #107 is clearly the pick of the bunch and one of the best Cap books ever IMHO.
Jack and Stan collaborated on a mere 10 issues of the Captain America series (issues 100 through 112, with the exception of Jim Steranko's work on issues 110 and 111), but those 10 issues are pure dynamite. #107 is a brilliant story, with a twist worthy of a Christopher Nolan or a M. Night. Shama-lama-ding-dong (whatever) movie.
Kirby's raw pencil-driven artistic powers were never better and keep perfect pace with Lee's intense and driven narrative.
The issue's focus is on Steve Rogers, who, having been frozen in suspended animation for 20 years, is still trying to cope emotionally with the death of his World War II fighting partner, Bucky Barnes. Cap's turmoil is ripe with realism, from the sorrow over his friend's loss to the personal guilt that weighs on his shoulders for having been able to save so many during the war but not his own partner.
And for once the cover perfectly alludes to the story inside and entices you to enter and read.

But I actually started off wanting to write about issue #105...
Ok #105 isn't the masterpiece #107 is, the art is still classic Kirby and the story is decent and action packed, and the cover, action packed as it is, is nothing really special...but it has Batroc ! Yes I admit I'm a closet Batroc fan...

I'm also ready to admit he's more of a comedic character than anything else, that stupid Dali-moustache, no special powers (ok, he knows French-boxing and can leap a bit), his use of Franglais/Frenglish (butchering both languages in one fell swoop)...
But he makes my day when I see him fighting a hero (and most of the time running away when he's about to get beaten) while keeping his own outlandish style.

I can't imagine what Cap must think, in between fighting The Red Skull, The Kree and the Skrulls, he has to put up with this pesky clown..Georges Batroc

Whoever created him (Stan ?)really went all the way this time. The name Batroc the Leaper ("Batroc ze Leapair"),itself is a joke, "Batrock" is the animal order to which frogs belong to...And Americans like to call Frenchmen...Frogs

But Georges wouldn't really be upset by this...in his own words :"Alas, you are too sensitive, mon cher! But, c'est la vie!"