AMERICAN COMIC BOOK CHRONICLES: THE 1960's, 1960-1964: From the fine folks at TwoMorrows press, this is the first in what I hope is a lengthy series of volumes exploring the wild and wooly history o' comics. Written by comics historian (and fellow Capa-Alpha * member) John Wells and generously illustrated with hundreds of full color images, this edition explores an especially cool moment in comics history. If not precisely the birth of the silver age (most folks say that started when the new Flash debuted in 1956), then it was certainly the birth of the Marvel age of comics, with the debut of the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the Hulk, the rebirth of Captain America, Thor, etc., etc., etc. But there were all sort of other comics available in those days, from a panoply of publishers long gone. ACG, Gold Key, Charlton, Dell, Harvey and more. John's written a conversational and comprehensive history here and TwoMorrows has given the book the deluxe treatment. Well worth checking out.
MESSAGES IN A BOTTLE - COMIC BOOK STORIES BY B. KRIGSTEIN: 240 full color pages of exquisite work by Mr. Krigstein, one of the finest artists to ever grace the world of comics. Delicate pen work and incredibly lay-outs abound in this comprehensive volume that includes his best EC stories. Anybody who believes today's comics are as good as it gets needs to give this a look. And look Ma -- not a superhero in the whole bunch.
MARVEL FIRST - WWII SUPERHEROES: 450 pages of full color Golden Age "origin stories", from superstars like the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner and Captain America to obscurities like "The Fin" and "Rockman", this is a raw injection of 40's comics madness. Up until the 80s, I think these type of stories are what most of the public had in mind when someone said "comic book." Crazy heroes, primitive but often exciting artwork, and stories that have fever-dream logic when they have any logic at all.
COLLECTED COMICS FONDLING/Dark Horse Presents 1986-2000: A print-to-order publication, I picked this up because it promised to index all 157 issues of Dark Horse's flagship title (+annuals). Which it does. But there are also reviews. And I didn't make it past page one, where there was this gem re: Dark Horse Presents #2: "Wow, does (Concrete creator Paul) Chadwick ever try hard to be cute. His Concrete story this issue is completely useless, inconsequential diversion... Maybe I'm missing the point." Well, yes, you are. Anyone who can't see the artistry and charm in my pal Paul's Concrete stories is a hopeless case, and yes, I am biased. Oh well.
* Capa-Alpha is a comics-related amateur press alliance that was formed in the early 60's and continues to this day. Members write and publish fanzines that are gathered each month by a Central Mailer, who distributes the collection to members. I've been publishing my own apa-zine for Capa-Alpha off and on since 1971...