Posted Monday, May 25th, 2020 by Barry

Unknown Soldier (1977) 237

Two stories for the “Immortal GI” this issue.

The first, ‘No God in St. Just,’ is more racially driven. The Unknown Soldier must convince African-American soldiers to kill Nazis.

‘Christmas Dinner’ is Janus Mitchell and Tenny Henson’s holiday offering. The title says it all.

Unknown Soldier (1977) 237

Unknown Soldier (1977) 237

The Unknown Soldier takes his name from the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery, VA. The character was created by Robert Kanigher and Joe Kubert, debuting in Our Army at War 168.

It would be another four years before he would receive his own book, Star Spangled War Stories in 1970. Starting with issue 151 and running through issue 204 when the book was retitled The Unknown Solider. The comic would last until October 1982 ending with issue 268.

The Unknown Soldier would return in 1988 with a 12-issue maxi-series as done by Jim Owsley and Phil Gascoine. He reupped in 1997 with Garth Ennis calling the shots and earned a final – as of this writing – appearance as a back up to G.I. Combat in 2012.

Posted Thursday, May 21st, 2020 by Barry

Sugar and Spike (1956) 38

Mysterious Secrets have Sugar and Spike worried their parents are mad at each other.

Sugar is dropped at Spike’s house while her parents do some last-minute shopping. She shares her concerns about the strange goings on at both homes.

The suspicions mount and the tots decide to hide presents so Spike’s parents will conspire to solve the mystery and not be mad at each other. As fate – and creator Sheldon Mayer – would have it, the garbage men are collecting trash.

Sugar and Spike (1956) 38

Sugar and Spike (1956) 38

Finding the presents, they assume they are rewarded for their services throughout the year as mail men and delivery men are.

The two sprites help solve the misunderstanding, but are relegated to a corner for their misdeeds.

Nanty Minerva’s Adventure with Santa Claus is another misunderstanding on both sides. She can’t understand why she scares Spike and Spike can’t understand why she doesn’t like him.

A Santa suit pulls both sides together in an unexpected way.

Foot Trouble has no Christmas spirit, but does question the choices we make.

Christmas Eve Battle shows there is justice in childrens’ worlds after all.

Another holiday offering from Mr. Mayer and his childish charges.

Posted Monday, May 18th, 2020 by Barry

Looney Tunes (1994) 10

The Looney Tunes revamp with DC offered its first of several seasonal outtings with issue 10.

Bugs and Daffy are struggling chimney sweeps in How the Wabbit Saved Christmas. Elmer is just struggling with his Christmas spirit. To buoy Fudd’s flagging festiveness, the duo decorates the fretting homeowners’ abode. That ends in disaster with demolition bringing Santa down.

To save Christmas – and give the story’s title credence – Bugs dons the red union suit and Daffy the red reindeer nose. Their travels take them to Tasmania, Paris and Mexico for special gifts before returning home.

Looney Tunes (1994) 10

Looney Tunes (1994) 10

The story has a happy ending for all but the Jolly One himself.

Sylvester’s is Trapped Up in the spirit of snooping in the second yuletide offering.

Bugs tortures Elmer in an untitled final funny of the book. Daffy has a walk-on guest appearance.

Readers were also treated to ‘A Carrot Christmas.’ This counting exercise helps Bugs learn how many carrots were left under his tree.

Tweety’s Twee Twimming Tips is a word search for items normally adorning the annual Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas from the denizens of the Looney Tunes universe – even if the big day is seven months off.

Posted Friday, May 15th, 2020 by Barry

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) 1

Cowabunga, dude, today is National Pizza Party Day.

Kinda feel like I need a shower after that sentence. Still, between the surfer slang and announcement of the non-holiday, it should be obvious today is also the day we talk about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) 1

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) 1

First, the day.

National Pizza Party Day, not to be confused with National Pizza Day observed in February, is celebrated the third Friday in May. The origins of day harken back to ancient Greece when they smeared oils, herbs and cheese on their bread. The Romans created a sheet of dough topped with cheese and honey, then flavored with bay leaves.

Pizza as we know it began in Italy, a Neapolitan flatbread with only mozzarella cheese. The first pizza restaurant was opened in America in 1905. Service men returning home from World War II also brought back an appetite for the delicacy allowing its popularity to spread.

Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird generated the Turtles as a parody of popular comic book tropes in the early 1980s. Though a sartorial statement, the Turtles were a more mature book in the beginning.

By 1987 Eastman and Laird’s creation had a strong following in the comic book community. Enough so, the two were approached concerning licensing of their product. Mark Freedman shopped the product around and soon had interest from Playmates Toys for action figures.

This being the 1980s, the toys were coupled with an animated afternoon feature acting as a half-hour advertisement. Both snowballed and a plethora of merchandise followed as did a live-action Hollywood offering in 1990.

The Turtles continue to capture and captivate new audiences today as the merchandising multiplies and animated features follow.

To celebrate today, throw a pizza party and pop in some Turtles.

Posted Tuesday, May 12th, 2020 by Barry

Captain America (1968) 250

In this election year and all the turmoil surrounding the office, maybe it’s time for an official we can all trust.

Who better than Captain America? At least before he was revealed to be a Hydra operative. Is that still canonical?  I don’t keep up with all the hype anymore.

Captain America (1968) 250

Captain America (1968) 250

Well, even if he is, it may be more appropriate the current political landscape considered.

Four Color Holidays – meaning Jeff and I – are based in West Virginia and today is our primary. Or, would have been if not for the CCP virus.

Andy, let’s use today to showcase Captain America 250.

For those not familiar with the story, Cap saves the New Populist Party from a terrorist attack. Samuel T. Underwood, the NPP Convention Chairman, invites the Star Spangled Avenger to serve as their presidential candidate. Cap demurs, but Underwood is persistent.

After much soul searching and advice, Cap realizes he serves America in a much better way as the Sentinel of Liberty.

‘Cap for President’ is the midway point for John Byrne’s collaboration with Roger Stern on, in hindsight, a remarkable collaboration from the beginning of the 1980s. Much of the run was reflective, allowing Steve Rogers/Captain America to remember where he came from as he entered a new era.

So, having read this, go vote your hearts – or at least for the lesser of two evils.

 

Posted Thursday, May 7th, 2020 by Barry

Archie’s Christmas Specials

Archie Comics was ahead of its time. This advertisement, circa 1979, offered home shopping before the Internet.

Actually, this was a deal. Individual copies were $.35 each, but the thrifty buyer could net three for $1.00 or all four for $1.25 – postage and handling included.

Available were Archie’s Christmas Stockings, Betty and Veronica Christmas Spectacular, Archie’s Christmas Love-in and Sabrina’s Christmas Magic.

For those used to priority shipping and online payment options, these were the days of sending a check and/or money order and waiting for months for your item. Case in point, note the cutoff for orders: June 30, 1979.

Archie’s Christmas Specials

Posted Monday, May 4th, 2020 by Barry

Star Wars (1977) 1

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter has never spared credit that Star Wars was the salvation of the company during a hard time in 1977 and 1978.

So, to celebrate Star Wars Day let’s take a look at the history of the space fantasy in the four-color universe.

Lucasfilm Publicity Supervisor Charles Lippincott first approached Marvel figurehead Stan Lee in 1975 about publishing an adaptation prior to the film’s release. Lee declined, citing he would do nothing until the movie was completed. Roy Thomas, a writer at Marvel and key figure in licensing Conan for Marvel, arranged a marriage between the publishing company and fledging movie maker.

Star Wars (1977) 1

To sweeten the pot, Lucas agreed not to accept royalties until sales exceeded 100,000 issues. The first issue hit spin racks April 12, 1977. When the movie was released, the comic went into several reprintings. The boost in sales got Marvel over a hump during a hard time in the industry.

The series continued from 1977 to 1986 with 107 issues and three annuals.

Star Wars issues one through six adapted the movie. With issue seven, Roy Thomas began penning original adventures. Archie Goodwin replaced Thomas with issue 11 and teamed with penciller Carmine Infantino. Together, they crafted adventures to keep the faithful placated until the cover-dated September 1980 issue 39. In that publication the adaptation of The Empire Strikes Back began.

Following the six-issue retelling, Marvel returned to its original stories with David Michelinie and Walt Simonson acting as the new creative team with issue 51. Ron Frenz took over artistic duties with issue 71.

Marvel deviated from its normal practice when adapting Return of the Jedi. The third installment of the original trilogy was printed outside the chronological order of comic books in a four-issue mini-series.

Following Return, Jo Duffy took over writing chores with art by Cynthia Martin. LucasFilms chose to discontinue the series by 1986.

As part of Marvel’s Legacy numbering, issue 108 was released in 2019 continuing original issue 50’s ‘The Crimson Forever’ story.

It’s hard to imagine a time when Star Wars was hard to find. For those who were there, Marvel’s continuation of the saga was a God send. For those who weren’t, it’s a hard read and a curiosity.

Posted Saturday, May 2nd, 2020 by Barry

Free Comic Book Day

In light of current events, Free Comic Book Day has been postponed at best. However, there are some of us not willing to forget what the day normally is like. This is also a good time to remember our local comic shops, their owners and how they are faring.

Free Comic Book Day is celebrated the first Saturday of May. Comic shop owners have a choice whether to participate or not. If so, they may purchase, at a steeply discounted rate, any or all of the 47 titles chosen by a committee of shop owners.

Titles are representative of what the market has to offer each year. Included this year are:

Blue Ribbon titles: Archie: Riverdale, the Ties that Bind; Power Rangers: Slayer; Critical Role & Norse Mythology; DC: a top secret offering; My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic; Fire Power issue one; Investi Gators Take the Plunge; X-Men issue one; Only a Matter of Space Time!; Jack Kirby: Epic Life King of Comics; Valiant 2020: Year of Heroes; and Zelda: Twilight Princess Splatoon Squid Kids.

Silver Ribbon Comics: Dark Ark Instinct; Hillbilly Lizard of Rusty Creek Cave; The Resistance; Lady Mechanika; Lumberjanes Farewell to Summer; Captain Canuck & Captain Battle issue one; Stranger Things & Minecraft; DC secret project; Little Lulu: No Boys Allowed; Manhwa Contemporary Korean Comics; The Boys issue one; Disney Masters: Donald Duck Special; The Richard Fairgray Monster Showcase; Enter the Incal issue one; Usagi Yojimbo; Invincible issue one; Mean Girls: Senior Year; Sue & Tai-Chan Preview; Spider-Man Venom issue one; The Tick; Super Mercado Mix Tape; Asterix FCBD Special; Loud House FCBD Special; Patrol Squad Kingdom Caper; Best of 2000 AD issue zero; Stepping Stones & Max Magnificent; Donut the Destroyer; Owly the Way Home; Blade Runner 2019; Horizon Zero Dawn; Bibi Miyu & Little Tanuki; Street Fighter issue 100 Ryu vs. Chun Li; Brandon Sanderson: Dark One issue one; Naruto Samurai 8 Viz Manga; Weirn Books; CBLDF & Boom Defend Comics and 2020 Overstreet Guide to Collecting.

So, ask not what your comic shop for you, but what you can do for your comic shop. Visit, browse, but don’t take more than you need. Plus, see what else the shops have available beyond the free tables

Free Comic Book Day

Posted Thursday, April 30th, 2020 by Barry

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics (1941) 1

One year after his first appearance on the big screen, Bugs Bunny hit the four-color world of comic books.

This is important to know to properly celebrate National Bugs Bunny Day today.

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics (1941) 1

Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics (1941) 1

Bugs has been represented in all forms of media. He has never been out of the public eye since he first appeared in 1940’s A Wild Hare. From the cartoon shorts Bugs moved into a more static medium with his appearance in Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies Comics issue one in 1941 courtesy of Dell Comics.

Bugs wouldn’t headline his own comic book until 1952. His fame led to the popularity of other characters who almost all of which would earn their own books through the 1950’s.

A year after his first appearance in comic books Bugs branched into newspapers with a comic strip that ran for more than 50 years.

To celebrate, host a Bugs Bunny cartoon marathon party. Birthday wishes may be sent using #NationalBugsBunnyDay.

Posted Tuesday, April 28th, 2020 by Barry

Superman (1939) 1

A day to honor super heroes, real and fictional, National Super Hero Day was created in 1995 by Marvel Comics employees.

While it may seem odd to honor DC’s flagship character in light of who originally sponsored the day, Superman is the logical choice considering he was the OG Super Hero.

Without going into too much detail, the Man of Tomorrow was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster originally intended to be a newspaper strip character. Syndicated bosses thought differently. National Allied Publications accepted the submission and comic books were never the same.

Superman first appeared in Action Comics issue one. He received a self-titled book the following year. Both continue publication to this day.

Superman (1939) 1

Superman (1939) 1

The success of Superman in comic books allowed him to finally appear as a newspaper strip. Later he became a radio and television star. The silver screen has beckoned several times. Initially Superman appeared as an animated hero courtesy of Fleischer Studios. A movie serial appeared in matinees in 1948. It wasn’t until 1978 that Superman was really super. At least on the big screen.

Touted that audiences would believe a man could-fly, Superman earned three sequels with Christopher Reeve in the cape. Superman Returns, starring Brandon Routh entered theaters 2006. Henry Cavill is the latest to don the tights, appearing in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League.

In addition to all the media outlets Superman has conquered, he continues to see print on a monthly basis as new fans discover what so many have known for over 80 years.