Thursday, June 1, 2017

Judging Horror Comics by the Cover

When I was a kid we didn't have a lot of money to buy comic books and every penny I made babysitting I always spent on records, concert tickets or band t shirts ( I had my priorities). I made a deal with my mother that I could earn Archie or X-men comic books from our local variety store with good grades but that plan was kind of flawed from the start as a "C" was considered pretty good in my world so my youthful comic collection was quite a minimal one.

   Except for the horror comics.

 Horror comic digests always seemed to be plentiful at Goodwill and other local thrift shops. I actually had quite a collection of comic digests from those book shelves where I learned about all sorts of things both amazing (Thanks Dennis the Menace for your trip to The Smithsonian) and seriously creepy. I learned quite a bit about vampire lore and more specifically, what a banshee is from reading those old used horror comic digests.

  Last summer was a fun summer of trying to make a go of what (even tho it eventually closed) "the little comic shop that could". I learned a lot about comic books and the comic business but i also revisited my old friends, horror comics.

   It was fun finding old titles in the many long boxes owned by Dan Vince of The Comic Shop (Randolph, MA) and a bit of a rude awakening to find what the genre has become.

   I have not yet found any of the same titles that I read in those digests as a kid but I did see many of that variety:

   The art and vintage clothing are very familiar:


 Note the magazine title sitting in the rack in the below page scan, I wonder how many people were involved in the meeting where "Look" was changed to "Saw" and how many of those people could have known that small word "Saw" would live on as a horror series of movies 40+ years later?


So time marches on and horror "lite" enters the mainstream and thus, comic tie in's soon follow. Not quite as creepy as the circa 1960's reprints that I read as a kid but probably still too creepy for the 1950's comics code:




  However as the sci-fi universe taught us and comics have produced in a frame by frame format, time sometimes moves sideways. Many of those sideways factions of our time space continuum are not places we would like to visit but none the less, (much like the god awful gory Saw movies) we would be lacking in our education if we did not own up to the fact that they exist.
 
Modern horror comics seem to have split into factions of the kind of creepy and the truly gross:

The only way I can stomach selling Tim Vigil comic books is by digesting the art with a critical mind. Look at that woman's right arm, not her left which seems alright but her right arm? The perspective is all off, where is her elbow?
  I will not include the gross inside pages to this title or other Tim Vigil drawn titles but I think one can get the idea of what this type of book contains by the cover. Dan Vince and I had a few conversations about these titles when I worked for him at The Comic Shop and our joint decision was that we wanted to do business and make a profit but the type of customer that gets excited over that kind of gore? Probably not people we wanted in the shop and certainly not anyone we would want to meet in person.
   That said, I was a little surprised by recent social media reports that grim rock star Glenn Danzig was quoted stating opposition to Planned Parenthood (an organization that I actively support). Mr. Danzig has collaborated in the past with Tim Vigil and all I could think was,

   "Dude, some woman making the hardest decision of her life grosses you out but necrophilia doesn't? Who on earth have I been supporting with my record buying money?"

 I do know where I stand on the Planned Parenthood debate and as much as I support freedom of the press (I have sold many Tim Vigil titles through Randolph Comix) I am still seriously grossed out by these types of modern horror books (and movies, I groove on clever tension not gore) I still have a soft spot for vintage horror comics of my childhood and teen years and am always delighted to find some indie title keeping the flame alive.
 
 
It brings me joy to think that through local thrift stores some of these vintage inspired titles might wind up in the hands of some modern creepy minded kid just like me.

   Note the proper perspective the artist used on this cover, the hands might be weirdly distorted but they are placed in a realistic manner....

Wonder Woman

We are so excited for the new Wonder Woman movie!

    It looks like it's going to be an awesome flick and it is already helping out sales for Wonder Woman titles in our online shops.


    We loaded up our inventory on Doctor Strange books prior to that release thinking that it would help sales of those books but although we sold a couple, the flick didn't really help the sale of older comic books much at all. (I have a feeling that those great books would have sold anyway with or without the "help" of the movie release.)

    Perhaps, because Wonder Woman has a stronger pop culture presence (vintage comic books, tv shows, toys etc)  potential buyers are already hooked on her back story before the movie even comes out?

Begrudgingly, we might also admit that as sexy as we women here at Grrl Pickers Vintage/Randolph Comix find Benedict Cumberbatch, there probably is something a little more appealing to the public at large about a scantily clad woman kicking hard core real life butt than a mystical sorcerer cloaked head to toe in heavy robes conjuring solutions to mythical threats in less "real" universe.

  Wonder Woman might reside in the US and her traditional costume has always been red, white and blue but we should not forget that she was not born here and we are also really grooving on her accent in this incarnation. She is female, an immigrant and if this trailer is any indication, she is KICKING ASS!

    Perhaps a bit of foolish distraction from our real world threats but as distractions go, this seems to be the right one at just the right time.


Wonder Woman trailer on You Tube

   We can't wait to see the film and are very excited to see what it's landing in theaters tomorrow will do for our comic book sales!



 

 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Comic of the Day: Batman The New Adventures No.416

Batman, The New Adventures

Published: February 1988

"D.C. Comics Aren't Just For Kids!"

  Clearly the cover depicts more graphic violence than one would expect from a kids comic book. It's interesting to me that my reaction to this cover is a lot different than it would have been when I was spinning the comics rack at my local convenience store when I was growing up. (Sunny Corner Farms, Brookline, MA to be specific...)

   I was actually 17-18 years old when this was published and was more likely stocking the rack as I worked at my local Store 24 (Beacon Street, also Brookline, MA) but my point is that I would have totally paid absolutely no attention at all to this cover as I was more attracted to the creepy fantasy aspect of the revamped Ghost Rider that also came out around that time.

  Now tho? Yeah, this bothers me. The adult in me (who after 10 years working in convenience stores has had more than my fair share of guns, thank you very much) has a definite gut reaction to the realistic depiction of the gun in this villain's hand and even more emotion is evoked by the seemingly doomed young man on the ground.

(The fact that it's Robin? Meh. Robin has always bugged me to some degree but, this? Nah, he's an irritating gnat as a character but he doesn't deserve this. Or any of the later things that happened to him but I digress...)


 

 So yeah, clearly the cover even without this PMRC era style warning label, makes it clear this comic might not be appropriate for young kids.
 (High School aged convenience store clerks is debatable...)


 But there is quite a bit more to this issue than just the violent cover.
 
   Endless insinuations both subtle and overt have been made about a possible romantic relationship between Batman and Robin. Most of which I find just silly but I think that is because "my" Batman and Robin are the Adam West / Bert Ward campy TV variety that I loved as a kid. I view the relationship between the two characters as any 8 year old would, as presented, at face value and totally innocent and devoid of any romantic undertones.

   But to accept that we have to suspend our belief in the reality that ALL of our beloved childhood icons were not written and drawn by kids like us but by adults with adult feelings.

So yeah, whether we buy into the whole Batman and Robin as a couple idea, it's pretty undeniable that these pages illustrate very adult relationship emotions.



Still unsure? 
The rejected aging former partner giving advice to the new younger version of himself? 
Seems kind of serious adult behavior to me.



  Since the very beginning comic books have not been intended to be "Just For Kids" as supported by the whole Comics Code labeling system of the mid 1950's (History of the Comics Code of 1954 ) and I can't help but wonder if this book having been published shortly after the big PMRC record labeling crusade of the mid 1980's, was this label a wink to past crusades or a smart ploy to increase book sales in the same way that records with the RIAA Parental Advisory label sold more units to tantalized teens on the hormone driven 24/7 quest for adult ideas?

 -Laura 






Friday, July 29, 2016

Comic Of the Day: Radio Shack Whiz Kids Promotional comic for The Tandy Computer Corporation Artist: Dick Ayers

Ok, so this is technically not really a comic book as it is more a promotional item manufactured to sell computers but it's art was created by Dick Ayers so, I think it still counts.


 Now that's a vintage computer!




 A few years back, I read a biography of writer Patricia Highsmith and learned about her career in low rent comics books before she became a successful author of more high brow literature. Ever since then I have wondered what other writers and artists might have been involved in comic books and what comic artists and writers might have had careers in  other fields.

This work of famed comic artist Dick Ayers is still in the comic book field (sort of) but is more accurately described as an illustrated advertisement. Still, it's a fun side line collectible for fans of his work as well as an interesting window into a time when computers were big clunky things covering whole desks with limited functionality.

 Kind of like the payphone the little girl uses in the second page featured below.






 As side line collectible comic art goes, this one is pretty low rent but I will defiantly be keeping my eyes out for more high profile artists popping up in unusual places...

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Comic of the Day: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Universe

Buffy sure has changed at lot since her 1992 corny comedy appearance:
She went from fashion obsessed teen to brooding 20-something:
 The franchise grew up with her and evolved some more adult story lines:

Spin off TV shows turned into comic merchandise as well:




And as actors went on to other popular projects the spin off merchandise continues to make money for vintage re-sellers:


Teens who had a crush on Luke Perry made way for teens with a crush on David Boreanaz who evolved into middle aged women with a crush on Booth from the Bones TV series. Not unlike her arch nemesis, the vampires of Sunnydale, The Buffy franchise just lives on and on.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Comic of the Day: Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers No. 4 Gilbert Shelton Pub. 1980

Anything Gilbert Shelton was involved with always sells well on the vintage circuit but nothing is as popular as The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers:
The guys themselves were popular enough characters but Fat Freddy's Cat adds something extra special to the stories as well:

Monday, July 18, 2016

Comic of the Day: Logan's Run No. 1 Marvel Comics Group Jan. 1976

Futuristic horror, suspense,romance and even Farrah Fawcett's hair. There was nothing lacking in this perfect 70's sci-fi shlock classic film. The only thing that could make it even better is a movie tie in comic book! This copy is in a bit of rough shape but it's coolness still shines through the dirt and discoloration.





Update: We found another Logan's Run comic published by Adventure Comics in 1990. This "run" didn't last much longer than the original comic series but who knows? Maybe some day someone will try again with a graphic novel? Stranger things have happened...