Saturday, January 03, 2015

In Brief(s)... Cool Comics Stuff

No, I'm not IN my briefs (well, actually I am, but you don't need that mind-picture)... some of the latest comics related stuff that's piqued my interest:

There are obscure comics, and then there are OBSCURE.  That I lived to see the day when a publisher like IDW would reissue the entire run of future Mad Magazine editor Al Feldstein's sexy comics from the early 50's astounds me.  But I did.  And I am astounded.  This big, 400 page full-color volume may strike some as overkill, but given the price of these books on the collector's market, $50 is a steal.  So, what makes this stuff worth the deluxe reprint treatment?  Don't look at the stories, which are dull "inspired by Archie" teen junk.  What makes this stuff "raise the ol' eyebrow" is the ridiculously detailed fetish art by Feldstein. Specifically, the dude liked drawing lady's breasts.  Feldstein took pains to delineate thrusting, bursting-from-the-fabric breasts on every female character.  And I mean every female character, not just the cute Betty and Veronica surrogates, but also matronly "mom", elderly teachers -- if the character's female, chances are her sad chest is just aching to explode from some ridiculously tight blouse or sweater. The end result is frankly quite surreal, since none of the stories ever actually touch on the insanely overt sexuality.  This book also features a nice text piece on Fox Comics (where this stuff originally appeared) and various rarities, like sketches.  And I'm still astounded.

This may be even MORE obscure.  Cole was a comics publisher/artist/editor from 40's-on whose claim to fame lies with his crazy dayglo, pop-art comic book covers.  Cole was a fairly talented artist, but his real talent lay in his great design sense.  This guy knew how to catch a reader's eye.  Since Cole mostly worked for smaller companies, they needed something to differentiate them from the more mainstream DC and Timely/Atlas/Marvel books.  He certainly managed that! At 270 full color pages and even LARGER than the Junior/Sunny book, this is more Cole than most people need, but it is a comprehensive and well produced volume.

There are several Wolverton art collections out there, but this is the first volume of a set that intends to explore his entire career from a biographical point of view.  Most collectors know Wolverton for his really bizarre pen-and-ink "portraits" (his drawing of "Lena The Hyena" made the cover of Mad magazine) but he was also a great comics artist, radio personality (!) and etc.  This is a remarkably detailed biography of the man's early years, including rare photos of Basil visiting the set of Buster Keaton's "The General" (it shot in Oregon, near Wolverton's hometown).  I confess a personal obsession with Wolverton, who lived near where I grew up... when my Uncle ran into Wolverton and told him that his nephew was a comics nuts, Basil was kind enough to call this very young fellow and talk... well, local wrestling, but also comics. Nice guy and a nice book.


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