Sunday, July 15, 2007
One of the funnest series DC put out in the 70's was Shazam! They had the rights to Fawcett's seminal hero and hadn't done anything with them for several years. Finally in 1973, in conjunction with the upcoming live action Filmation series, DC decided to put out a new title. Calling it Shazam!, it lasted five years and 35 issues. Originally featuring work by the series' original artist CC Beck, it retained the flavor and humor of the original series. Beck became frustrated over the course the series was going however and left after 9 issues. Bob Oksner took over and the series also had art from the great Kurt Scaffenberger. The initial scripts were by Denny O'Neil, who wasn't well suited to the material. Later stories were by E. Nelson Bridwell, who had a better grip on the material. This cover by Beck for issue #6 is pretty cool. I liked the photo effect. The vibe of this cover harkens back to the Golden Age, which is what this series was going for. It didn't quite work but it's still an entertaining read if you like the character.
One of the few independent comics I bought during the early 90's was Revolutionary's Rock N Roll comics. It combined two of my main interests, rock music and comics. The Grand Comic Book Database doesn't have a lot of info on this series, other than it lasted 65 issues from 1989-1993. The series featured such artists as U2, The Rolling Stones, Metallica, Guns N Roses, Alice Cooper, Living Color, Rush, and Def Lepard. The stories usually covered the history of the bands featured. Unfortunately, they weren't real accurate most of the time. The art was OK. Some bands were portrayed pretty accurately while others weren't. It's not a great series by any stretch of the imagination, but I still kind of like it. Some of these artists' stories would make pretty good comics. Maybe someday another publisher will try their hand at adapting them in comics form.
When people talk about comic book movies, the typical ones usually spring up. The Superman, Batman, X-Men, and Spider-Man franchises have produced some pretty good movies but none of them were as faithful to the comic as Joe Johnston's Rocketeer, which came out in 1991. It perfectly captured Dave Stevens' aviation book. It felt like you were there in the late '30's with Cliff Secord and his rocket pack. I saw it in a movie theater built in the late '20's and it was one of the coolest movie experiences I've ever had. The adaptation published by Disney is quite good also. Featuring a beautiful cover by the series' creator, Dave Stevens, it's a faithful adapation of the film. The interior art is by the amazing Russ Heath and it is just beautiful. Russ was born to draw this character. It's just great art. The story is by Peter David and he stays faithful to the movie as well. It's a great adaptation of an even greater movie.
From the same creative team that brought us the Close Encounters adaptation comes an even more exciting version of a great sci-fi movie. The Alien adaptation by Goodwin and Simonson is one of the best movie adaptations ever done for comics. It was published by Heavy Metal magazine so that gave them a little more leeway as far as showing some of the horror that made the movie so good. It's quite possibly the most terrifying movie I've ever seen and Goodwin and Simonson bring that across very well. It has a creepy feel to it that no other book I've read has. Goodwin had help from the film's screenwriter, Dan O'Bannon, which was a tremendous aid in getting the feel of the movie down. They had more input from the studio than they did for Close Encounters. All of this input shows on the page. If you've never read this, you're missing out on a real visual treat.
I thought I'd post some of my favorite comic book adaptations of movies I really liked growing up. The first adaptation I really remember enjoying was the Star Wars Treasury Editions Marvel put out in 1977. I couldn't get enough of them. So I was pretty excited when Marvel put out their adaptation of Speilberg's space alien saga a year later. It was quite different than Star Wars but I was still entranced by the mothership and the aliens at the end. Writer Archie Goodwin and artist Walter Simonson did a very good job adapting the story, even though they didn't have much reference to go on because the movie's production was shrouded in secrecy. Simonson was perfect for the subject matter, as his style suited the otherworldly aspect of the movie. The cover by Bob Larkin was beautiful as well. This same creative team would get together again a couple of years later to adapt another great '70's sci-fi film.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
This was one of my favorite treasury sized comics. Every July 4th I try to read it. Jack "King" Kirby takes us and Cap on a journey through American history that's pretty spectacular as Kirby always was. Just a great, great comic. If you have it, then get it out again and read it this Fourth Of July. It'll definitely get you in a patriotic mood.
In honor of our nation's birthday I thought I'd post a couple of cool patriotic covers. Uncle Sam Quarterly was published by Quality Comics during the early '40's to capitalize on our increased patriotism during World War II. This cover by Al Gabriele graced issue #5 from Winter, 1942. I don't think there was ever a greater patriotic image than Uncle Sam. You knew those bloody Axis powers never stood a chance!
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