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Saturday, June 27, 2020

Remembering Joe Sinnott / FANGS FOR NUTTIN'!! - Joe Sinnott's "Men With Fangs!"

(re-posted from 2009)

Joe Sinnott is one of my favorite artist's, not only for his amazing inking over Kirby on 'Fantastic Four' and hundreds (thousands?) of other great comics for Marvel during their 60's rebirth, but because of his own wonderful drawing style, as featured primarily in Marvel's Atlas incarnation in the 50's. He was a real master of westerns, war comics, sci-fi, romance (he apparently did tons of anonymous work ghosting for Vinnie Colletta studios in the 60's, duplicating the style!) - he did it ALL wonderfully! Oh, did I mention his HORROR comics? Hee hee!! 
How about a sexy dame, a little bondage, and... - Were-Rats?!
From Atlas' SUSPENSE #25, 1952, here is
MEN WITH FANGS!








RIP Joe Sinnott
10/16/26 - 6/25/20








CRACKED # 1 - Bill Everett and the Atlas Implosion art connection

My copy of CRACKED #1 - click to enlarge
(re-posted from 2009)

Here you go.
In December of 1957, a new magazine hit the news-stands. 'CRACKED' would become the most successful 'MAD' competitor ever published. With a cover date of March, 1958, here is the amazing first cover! By John Severin, right? Nnnah, not quite...here's the story...
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...1957...Atlas (Marvel) Comics...Publisher Martin Goodman confronts editor/writer Stan Lee regarding a 'closetful of completed yet unused stories', forcing Lee to end offering freelance work, and to essentially fire the entire steady bullpen staff one by one until finally, by the end of April, the infamous 'Atlas Implosion' is in full effect. At the same time, Goodman takes a gamble by deciding to switch to a new distributor, American News Company (ANC), and when ANC shut down operations within the first months,  the 'Atlas Era' effectively came to a close. A few short years later, Stan Lee would usher in the renaissance of the 'Marvel Age of Comics', but that...is another story for another time.

Now it's the end of 1957. The core group of Atlas artist's are scrambling to find steady work. One of many new ventures they find is a new publication seeking to imitate the success of 'MAD' magazine. Publisher Robert C. Sproul hired Lee's right-hand man, artist and production manager Sol Brodsky as his new editor. Brodsky promptly hired the best of the old art staff, including: Carl Burgos, Paul Reinman, Joe Maneely, Bill Everett, Al Williamson, Ed Winniarski, Russ Heath, and, last but not least, John Severin. Severin, who had drawn for 'MAD', was offered the assignment of drawing the first cover. He drew his cover layout idea and brought it in for approval. The problem was, Sproul was not about to pay as much as 'MAD', not even close. So Severin decided to pass on completing the assignment, and close friend Bill Everett came on board to paint the first cover, using much of Severin's layout. The result is a beautiful combination of the now familiar 'cluttered, star-studded' Severin cover style and the excellent humorous artistic talents of Everett. Today we can take a look at both the original cover (above), as well as a more recent reprint of same issue (below), for comparison.
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To help you make sense of all the madness (cracked-ness?), here are a few of the people and events from 1957 that the artist(s) have captured in this 'time-capsule' of a cover:
*Between 1955 and 1958 there were at least 8 recorded Antarctic expiditions, beginning with America's 'Operation Deepfreeze' led by the legendary Admiral Richard E. Byrd, who's first expidition was in 1928. Wikipedia explains : The impetus behind Operation Deep Freeze I was the International Geophysical Year 1957–58. IGY, as it was known, was a collaboration effort between forty nations to carry out earth science studies from the North Pole to the South Pole and at points in between. The United States, along with Great Britain, France, Japan, Norway, Chile, Argentina, and the U.S.S.R. agreed to go to the South Pole—the least explored area on Earth. Their goal was to advance world knowledge of Antarctic hydrography and weather systems, glacial movements, and marine life. The U.S. Navy was charged with supporting the U.S. scientists for their portion of the IGY studies.
To represent these expeditions we see a parka-clad man in a canoe...what is it he's discovering? A giant smoking penguin hitting on a mermaid! In the back of his canoe we see...

* ...a television set, complete with antenna. By the end of 1957, TV was the new technology and growing fast as the soon-to-be dominant form of media, with over 47 million TV sets in 40 million homes.

* The cold war was in full bloom...in the west (USA) we see the mushroom clouds (literally), while in the east, at the 'Atom Bombski Site' there appears to be smaller fireworks exploding instead...on the USA side we see a eye spying on us from a submarine periscope...to the north we see Santa Claus being accosted by a Soviet soldier, who in turn is foiled by a good old American cowboy, who very much resembles the comic book version of Wyatt Earp that had been drawn by both Severin and Everett at one point.

* Speaking of the cold war, on October 4th, 1957, Russia launched the first satellite into space, Sputnik 1, and the space race was on. A month later, Sputnik 2 was launched, carrying a live dog. America, fearing Russian atomic bombs dropping from the skies, quickly responded by attempting to launch our own sattelite, and in December the United States answered the Soviet challenge by launching the Vanguard. The rocket burst into flames upon launching, and the USA's satellite managed to travel only a few hundred feet at best, being thrown clear in the explosion.

* Ike was president, and here he swings his golf club and drives a ricochet shot straight into the sputnik satellite.

* We can see Cleopatra fishing off of her ship on the river Nile, and she looks like she hooked a big Roman, Marcus Antonius...okay, so...these two were not actually around in 1957...

* Just above them we see the yawning, sulphurous mouth of Hell is now exposed (naturally in communist territory), and Satan himself looks out, accompanied by his three recent inductees - Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, and Benito Mussolini. There is a pair of legs also sticking out of hell, and I like to think they belong to that 'fanner of the cold wars flame's, red-baiting, commie chasing senator Joe McCarthy, who had died earlier that year.

*  Appearing to fly out of the pits of Hell (which inevitably brings this image to mind) are a man and a woman on a motorcycle, trailing a 'Just Married' sign and a string of tin cans. The man is the 'Wild One' himself, Marlon Brando, and the woman is his new bride, Anna Kashfi, who were married on October 11th, 1957. Brando would later state that he married Kashfi only because he had gotten her pregnant. The result of that pregnancy was son Christian Brando, who shot and killed Dag Drollet, his half-sister Cheyenne's boyfriend, in 1990. Brando divorced Kashfi  in 1959.

*  The beautiful and busty Jayne Mansfield's star was on the rise. She had just released a couple of movies that helped to establish her as the next big 'sex symbol', 'The Girl Can't Help It', and 'Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter?". In November of '57 she purchased the now famous 'Pink Palace', and in January of '58 she married bodybuilder Mickey Hargitay.

* I'm not 100% certain, but speaking of sex symbols, I do believe that the blonde woman in the Canadian Mountie uniform dragging behind a man with glasses to be Marilyn Monroe, and husband at the time playwright Arthur Miller...I do not understand the Canadian reference, if it even is supposed to be them. If you know who they are and I'm mistaken, please let me know.

* In the lower left we see a jet with USA markings flying, and the pilot is giving a thumbs up sign. This is Major John Glenn, who set an air speed record on July 15th, 1957. Project Bullet, the first supersonic transcontinental flight was achieved by Glenn who flew a Vought F81-U Crusader jet from California to New York in 3 hours, 23 minutes and 8.4 seconds. He later became the first American to orbit the earth, and is currently a US senator.

* Lastly, take a look at this last inside joke  --  Underneath all of the craziness, the weight of the world has crushed...the mighty 'Atlas'! (Atlas is dead - long live Atlas!)


Here is the reprint version
-click on images to enlarge-

CRACKED magazine (or mazagine, as they called it) stopped publishing in 2007. In it's place is the modern version, the updated CRACKED.com website. Click here to visit.

Thanks for dropping in! Next time, could you phone ahead first? ...I was in the shower...
More on the early days of Cracked, as well as the Atlas contributor's, in days to come!
See you then!

Monday, June 22, 2020

NEW COMICS REVIEW - ACP Comics FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4

New Comics Review
 FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4
 Published by ACP COMICS
ACP COMICS


A NEW COMIC BOOK REVIEW By Michael Wurl

Greetings, comic book lovers! I bring you a mystery!

I cannot speak to the state of modern comics, my friend, but most historians would agree that since the early days of Superman and Batman eighty years ago, and the resurgence of Marvel nearly sixty years ago, the industry has changed drastically. Independent publishers now have freedom to create like never before, and the internet provides a perfect platform to market and distribute new comics to an ever-widening audience.

But what is today's MYSTERY?
Q: How does the comic book fan of today find actual new, high quality comics that aren't over-priced, SJW/PC propaganda pap slogged out from DC, Marvel or some other big names?
A: It can be difficult to navigate the raging, uncharted waters of modern comics without some kind of a guide, or a map. A little word of mouth, a tip from a friend. Well, lucky you, I have been set adrift upon the waves of comic book horizons, and I have traversed those murky whitecaps already, so if we follow my simple treasure map as outlined below, perhaps we can find comics gold.

The best new comics of today are ones that take all of the best lessons that we have learned from over half a century of comic book story-telling history, distilling every element that has successfully worked and utilizing it, while adding their own distinctive and completely new creative vision. I believe one of the comics publishers doing this beautifully is ACP COMICS. 

In the past I have purchased, and am the proud owner of, ACP COMICS Horror/Sci-fi anthology series FORBIDDEN GALLERY issues #1-3. The first quantifiable attribute you cannot help but notice quickly is the excellent, high-quality of the production. Absolutely the finest paper I've seen on any comic book, ever. No lie.  Also, gone are the days of out-of-register printing! Every page is as perfect as the previous or the next. As an artist who also spent nine years as a printer, I am a qualified expert in judging such print quality. As far as quality, ACP COMICS knows what it is doing. 

You might say, "What good is glossy paper and slick printing if the art and story are crap?" So true. So many new or Indy comics have almost stick-figure art and lazy stories that your crazy cat-lady Aunt Mabel may have written. Perhaps to avoid such disappointing tripe, consider a switch from brand-x comics and start collecting ACP COMICS!

But, seriously, FORBIDDEN GALLERY comics have all the hallmarks of classic comics of the past, while bringing some of the most cutting edge creative story-telling and artwork, all from extremely talented people. 

ACP COMICS writer/editor/publisher William Mull is doing Yeoman's work to bring good comics back in vogue. The multi-talented Mr. Mull writes many of the original stories himself, and his studied grasp of the genre is reflected in gripping and often unsettling Gothic horror-tinged prose, seemingly culled from the heart of pulps long passed into the shrouded depths of another era. Assisting Mr. Mull ably is art director Daerick Gross Sr., whose skill at graphic design has helped FORBIDDEN GALLERY comics present a slick and polished product from the initial publication that has only improved with each issue. 
While publisher Mull may perform lion's share of the creative burden (often lettering or coloring as well), he has a growing roster of creative writers and artists contributing their skills to the final product. Some names are easily recognizable to those familiar with the industry, writers like Nicola Cuti, Roger McKenzie, Paul Kupperberg and others, along with industry professionals like artists Benito Gallego, Dan Day, Karl Comendador, Jeff Austin, and many others. The result is top-notch, high quality new comics. 

So, just what is this comic book I'm talking about, FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4?
FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4  -  Cover artwork by Steven Butler






























Possibly the best new anthology comic out there, with each issue featuring multiple stories of the sci-fi/horror flavored variety. Take a pinch of 50's pre-code horror/sci-fi comics like EC Comics, add a dollop or two of Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Night Gallery, spice it up with elements from 70's Marvel and DC sci-fi/horror, don't forget a slice or two of the old Warren B/W masterpieces, then drizzle a few drops of the Hammer Films, and finally, top it all off with the twistiest twist endings that O. Henry couldn't have predicted.

Beginning with issue #1, FORBIDDEN GALLERY has been hosted by the dark and mysterious Archimedes. Handsome, devilish, and in complete control, Archimedes reveals, one by one, different  arcane works from his Forbidden Gallery to a very special and select audience (which includes the reader). In a role much akin to TV's The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling (but with much darker spiritual ties), the charming yet dangerous, intimidating and aloof Archimedes leads the reader through several varying tales of adventure, terror, and mystery!

Your Host, ARCHIMEDES and friend





















As I've said, I have previously purchased FORBIDDEN GALLERY issues #1, #2, and #3, and enjoyed them all very much. The first issue was very good, and ACP has genuinely improved FORBIDDEN GALLERY with each issue, as they continue their forward progression. I think it's a great comic, so when I was given the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the upcoming FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4 for review, I was very excited to see what was coming next! I held high hopes for this issue and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed it just as much as I had anticipated!

When I think of horror/sci-fi comics in general, the gold standard is EC comics of the 50's. The new FG comics understand that,I think, at least they evoke that sense of nostalgia, while behind that familiar facade there lurks the menacing new form of horror. Reminder: If blood in comics makes you squeamish, then perhaps this comic isn't for you. While every page is not a slaughterhouse, ACP Comics aren't shy when violence is a vital part of the story.

That said, even EC Comics only managed four stories per issue, but ACP Comics has packed five stories into this comic!

FIVE COMPLETE STORIES!
FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4  -  Frontispiece artwork by Daerick Gross Sr. 


WEIRD OF THE WOODCHUCK
Story: Ed Devore / Pencils: Portaveritas / Inks: Jeff Austin / Colors: Kevin J. Frear / Letters: William Mull
The possibility of shape-shifters among us, and what could
happen to the delicate 
balance of nature when the ignorant
thumb of selfish indifference weighs down on life's scales. 

What shambling horrors may be unleashed in the dark?

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INTO THE DRINK 
Story:James Hudnall / Art: Luca Cicchitti  / Colors: Matt Webb / Letters: William Mull
A tale of one man's struggle with the demon alcohol and the
sharp spiral into madness! 
A lonely stretch of road, a bottle
of booze, and a mysterious hitch-hiker spell 
D-A-N-G-E-R!

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THE END OF THE LINE
Story: Dan Johnson / Art: Benito Gallego  / Colors: Kevin J. Frear / Letters: William Mull
The cruel Baron has no mercy towards the band of peaceful gypsies
who trespass on his hallowed 
lands, but his wicked plans for the
comely Melda will bring about an unraveling of 
his privileged world,
as the darkest secret of the gypsies is unveiled!

_____________________


PARTICLE MAN - RISE OF FUKUSHARM 
Story & Letters: William Mull  /  Art: Karl Comendador  /  Colors: Daerick Gross Sr.
Nuclear catastrophe of recent days brings about true horrors
only previously dreamed of 
in cinema, as a giant mutation rises from the sea
to threaten Japan! Can the mysterious 
Particle Man stop it's destruction,
or will Tokyo truly fall in the onslaught?

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CONTAMINATION
Story: Nicola Cuti  /  Art: Dan Day  /  Colors: Daerick Gross Sr.  /  Letters: William Mull
The farthest depths of space. An uncharted planet.
Is the Captain being overly paranoid, or is he merely trying to
protect his ship from unknown danger? 
What if even the strictest of
protocols isn't enough to prevent a...contamination?

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Every story has an appearance and an introduction by Archimedes, and every story has it's own full-page splash Pin-Up!

FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4 has a gorgeous front and back cover scene with excellent artwork by Steven Butler! I think it's quite striking! His work has appeared in ACP before and I quite enjoyed it. But have you heard this? ACP COMICS is now offering Special Discount Deals on FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4 featuring FIVE (count 'em - FIVE!) VARIANT COVERS!

Besides the excellent original cover by Steven Butler,
ACP COMICS offers five variant covers featuring the artwork of the very talented and renowned:
MIKE HOFFMAN! NIK POLIWKO! BRIAN LeBLANC! MIKE MONTGOMERY! KELLEY JONES!
 
You may want to get them all! You can find them by clicking the link below, along with ACP COMICS variety of discount packages.

There are some very clever stories appearing here, and some excellent story-telling. All of the art was well done, with a variety of styles, some of it was quite spectacular. THE END OF THE LINE, for instance, is an example of some of the gems of story-telling that Mr. Mull puts together each issue. The art of Benito Gallego has such a strong John Buscema stamp on it like no other artist! I had to check more than once to see if it was an old Buscema story, but it is just a facet of the talented artist's skill-set. That's just one out of the five stories that I enjoyed.



FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4 is a definite BUY!
I enjoyed this comic! I enjoyed the earlier issues, too, and I'm genuinely excited to see what is coming next from ACP.
My bottom line - I give this comic 4-1/2  stars out of 5
and in the murky expanses of comicdom, this book stands out as well above average, and certainly easily worth the trouble of a mouse click to see more in-depth information.
I do highly recommend this comic, FORBIDDEN GALLERY #4, and issues #1-3 as well! Click the link below! 
In my opinion, the future looks bright for this series, FORBIDDEN GALLERY, and this comics publisher, ACP COMICS.







Thursday, March 3, 2016

Berni Wrightson's Classic SWAMP THING!



CLASSIC.

clas·sic - \ˈkla-sik\
adjective

1. a :  serving as a standard of excellence :  of recognized value [classic literary works]



___________________________________________


Greetings, comics fan.

I am

THE APOCOLYTE!


Welcome to another day for great comics!

I have a story first.

FLASHBACK:
The year was 1971. It was late spring. A young Apocolyte walks into the local Topps store (picture a department store, pre-Walmart, similar to a Kmart). On the wall near the entrance there are three vending machines and a photo booth. One vending machine sells candy. One vending machine sells soft drinks. The final vending machine sells...COMIC BOOKS!

Aha! Probably most of you have no idea what I'm talking about and have never seen a comic book vending machine! I think their heyday was during the mid 1960's through mid 70's. Distribution of comics and magazines wasn't quite like it is today. If you had a decent news-stand in town you were the lucky one. Another option for comic readers was to order a mail order subscription, and the comic book would come FOLDED IN HALF (!) vertically inside a small brown sheath envelope, which would invariably produce an everlasting wrinkle crease down the center of the cover.

Another way to get your comic fix was to find a drugstore that hopefully had a spinner rack or a small magazine section and if you were lucky you could get a copy of your favorite comic before they disappeared, but the chances were that the issue you'd been waiting a whole month for somehow eluded you at the stores you had access to. Yes, collecting your favorite comics back then was often a spotty practice that left gaps here and there that may one day, in the years to come, be rectified. Today, with internet sales, digital downloads, and specialty comic stores there are almost too many choices and too much comic content, and while problems still occur, finding what comic you're looking for isn't usually one of them.

So, in 1971, that's where comic book vending machines played a role. For many years I bought many comics from that old vending machine. That particular machine carried only DC comics, and they were loaded on their rotating spring arms in no particular order. You might have a Lois Lane in front, and behind it you could see there was a Sgt. Rock, and behind that was a Justice League of America. If you had enough change (it took a dime and a nickel, unless there was a 25¢ giant sized issue - don't you wish you could buy a comic for 15¢ now?) you could buy that ol' Lois Lane so you could get to the Sgt. Rock and the Justice League that you really wanted! 
I got stuck with many a Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen comic that way.

Back to my original story. In the machine this particular day was a comic I knew I had to buy! I'd have bought TEN Lois Lane's in order to get this issue of DC's HOUSE OF SECRETS #92! There was a cover like nothing my little brain had ever seen! WOW! And the story inside! Just as good!

So, my original, now rare and nearly priceless HOUSE OF SECRETS #92 comic was purchased from a vending machine. 
The sad addendum to the story is that the very same comic was stolen from me, along with most of my massive childhood comic collection. SNIFF! It still brings a tear to my eye! (dab dab)

I did eventually replace it, and much of my original collection, through the modern phenomena known as the internet, flea markets, garage sales, and a plethora of comic stores that one day miraculously sprouted up throughout the country. 
The End.

________________




Berni Wrightson's artistic style is unmistakenly his own, there is no one like him. Before Wrightson there was Graham Ingels, and since Wrightson there is Kelley Jones, and each was influenced by their predecessor. Similar styles, black shadows and somber moods, but Wrightson has established himself as the modern master of gothic horror. 

You've no doubt seen this story before, many times.
It is a story worth reading again, and again, as all classics are.
So, from my reprint, digitally enhanced and restored, is the masterpiece that came from the minds of Len Wein and Berni Wrightson.
Here is...

 SWAMP THING!



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- Digitally Restored Comic Art-


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-click to enlarge-













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Wow!
I could drone on and on about Wrightson's art! 
What marvelous layout, and staging, panel formation, and camera angles, and artistic execution! 
Brilliant!

According to the PENCIL INK blog, Wrightson was aided on the story inks by his art studio mates, 
Jeff Jones, Michael W. Kaluta, and Alan Weiss (who also had 6 pages of art in the same issue). 
GCD hesitantly credits Tatjana Wood (aka Mrs. Wally Wood) as colorist.

I would be remiss if I didn't mention and display Wrightson's stunning cover artwork.  
The original art was done as an ink wash drawing and is owned by collector Stephen Fishler, and is displayed here (click link), as well as posted below.


DC famously (or infamously) altered Wrightson's original art by what can be described as applying a mezzotint screen process, which produced the now familiar stippling effect. Either way you look at it, it remains an elegant and masterful composition and one of the most beautiful comic book covers ever created.


HOUSE OF SECRETS # 92, 1971

Gorgeous! What a masterpiece!
Whoever did the coloring did an amazing job!
(aha...now I see!  GCD credits Jack Adler)
Nicely done, Jack!



__________________________________


I hope you enjoyed that, I certainly did!
But, before you go, I have a special treat for you!


Over at 
I have posted original artwork by Berni Wrightson 
doing a Simpson's parody of his SWAMP THING creation!

You don't want to miss this!



__________________________________



I'll be back here with more good stuff for you!