Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Comic Shop News #1069

sg...I'm glad to see I'm not the only one lamenting the end of DC's digest line!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Archie's Pals 'n Gals #116 - Dec. 2007

sgI had decided awhile back to check in on the current crop of Archie digests, but had yet to get around to picking one up.

Then a few weeks ago, I had to take my Dad to get some surgery (minor, thankfully) and I was waiting around while it was being done. I knew I had an hour or so, so I went to the nearest supermarket to run a few errands, and while I was waiting in line, I saw this and I grabbed it.

So there I sat, in the waiting room, listening to the audiobook of Alan Weisman's World Without Us on my iPod, while reading an Archie digest. Yes, I am a renaissance man.

You do get quite a value for your money with these--over 190 pages of material from various eras of Archie comics, starring(in order) Nancy, Archie, Reggie, Sabrina, Big Moose, Lil' Jinx, Jughead, Coach Kleats, Little Sabrina, Little Archie, Ethel, Josie and the Pussycats, plus lots of fun, old-school puzzle and game pages. They could've published this same collection in 1997, 1987, or 1977; and that's part of Archie Comics' enduring charm.

There's a one-page sequence, the only one of its kind in the book, featuring Archie and Jughead but rendered in full Photoshop coloring. Nice try, but when you've got such a cartoony set of characters, trying to put them inside a more realistically-colored world just doesn't work. Flat color is just fine, boys!

...and that wraps up our first Digest Comics update(Archie always seems like a good one to go out on). But I'm sure we'll be back before you know it!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Disney Adventures - November 2007

sgThis is the final issue of Disney Adventures...*sniff* I even bought this at an old-fashioned, tobacco-aromaed newsstand, to make the whole experience just a little more perfect.

Inside is the usual fun grab-bag of features, like:
a collage of all the previous DA covers
kids writing in to say what hero they'd like to be the sidekick for(one young girl picked Jessica Alba as the Invisible Woman...hey, that was my idea!)
"Dizzy Adventures" by the great Matt Feazell
an article on Ratatouille(Matt Feazell and Patton Oswalt in the same issue? tre cool!)
a cutely clever puzzle sequence starring a werewolf
"Wulf and Merl" by Drew Weing
"How to Draw Chef Skinner"
"The Replacements" by Todd Clark and Min Ku
"Jet Pack Pets" by Michael Stewart and Scott Koblish
"Kid Gravity" by Landry Walker and Eric Jones
"The Great Mouse Detective" by Elizabeth Watasin
an absoslutely gorgeous one-page feature on The Scarecrow(meeting the Headless Horseman, no less), painted by Bret Blevins
"Fozzie Bear" by Roger Landridge
"Duck Tales" by Walker and Jones
"Gorilla Gorilla" by Art Baltazar
and "Disney's Tall Tails" by Glenn McCoy

...I feel a little ashamed that I overlooked this magazine for so long, considering the amount of really fun material that's in it, especially the Comic Zone stuff, which probably introduced more kids to comics in a single issue than a year of DC and Marvels.

Nice job, Disney Adventures!

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Magnus The Robot Fighter Golden Comics Digest

sgDigest Fan Neal Snow was so bothered at the idea that Gold Key never did a Magnus, Robot Fighter digest collection that he went ahead and made one up for himself! Love that good old-fashioned "can do" spirit!

Beautiful job, Neal, now get going on the other hundred or so pages!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Golden Comics Digest #34 - Jan. 1974

sgAnother guest submission, this time from DigestFan Neal Snow:
Lotsa reading fun for a measly 50 cents. Looney Tunes favorites like Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, Tweety, Elmer Fudd, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester, Daffy Duck and the Roadrunner are featured, and I have no clue which Gold Key artists are responsible, but it's a solid package.

Sad that these kind of comics, especially in this format, are not published anymore."

Amen to that, Neal, and as anyone can see from the scan you sent, this copy was obviously read, re-read, and re-read some more, just like good comics are supposed to be!

Sunday, December 2, 2007

The House of Mystery #1 - 1973

sgThere was definitely a movement happening in the early 1970s, where we saw mainstream comics publishers try their hands at paperback editions featuring prose stories and spot illustrations--y'know, just like real books!

Marvel did a book called Haunt of Horror(they also did a b/w magazine with that title), and DC did this, a paperback edition of the House Of Mystery. I had never seen this volume before, but when I saw this awesomely creepy Berni Wrightson cover, I couldn't say no(well, I could have, I guess--I just didn't want to!).

The book features eight prose stories, all by Jack Oleck, about twenty-thirty pages each:
"Chamber of Horrors", "Nightmare", "Collector's Item", "Born Loser", "Tomorrow, The World", "The Haunting", "You Only Die Once", and "Act of Grace."

Each story also features a sweet full-page illustration by Wrightson, and as you can see he was in his element here, doing some of his best work(and that's saying something!):
sg...there's also a nice opening page piece featuring Cain, the only reference to the comic's host in the entire book.

I don't know if these stories were ever adapted into comics(before or after), but it does make for a nice spooky collection of tales.

DC did do a second volume, but I think that was it. I don't remember ever seeing an ad for these in the comics themselves, which seems odd to me.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Zombies Calling - SLG

sgI saw this in Previews a month or two back, and the cover was so cool that I ordered it on a whim. Plus its hard to go wrong with zombies!

This is a digest-sized, 116-page book that obviously owes more to the style of manga than a classic "digest" comic, but I enjoyed it throughly, and I thought why not occasionally talk about something current?

It's the story of a college student named Joss and her two friends who know zombie movies by heart, yet are still a little shocked when real zombies show up on their college campus!

The story moves at a nice clip, the characterizations are sharp, and I especially liked the art(by Faith Erin Hicks, who also wrote it)--kind of like a cross between the loosey-goosey linework of Paul Pope over the thick, big-eyed stylization of Chynna Clugston, which was appealing to the eye. There's a lot going on in this book, but it never seemed crowded or hard to read, and Hicks has a nice sense of design(as the cover indicates).

There's also some character sketches and some bio material, making for a very nice package. And for $9.95, it's a good value, too(especially when you think about how a 22-page floppy book that takes two minutes to read costs a third of this!).

I really think this format is going to be the future of comics--more value, no ads, and hopefully more of a singular voice. And you know, we're not talking about some esoteric, navel-gazing self-involved comics-as-therapy book here, this is a good old-fashioned zombie story! It's commerical as hell, and I hope we see more from Ms.Hicks in the future.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Chiller Pocket Book #17 - 1981

sgAre you as intrigued as I am wondering how the story inside manages to feature the Man-Thing, a jumbo jet, and a flying pirate ship?

Stories include:
"Whatever Happened to Captain Fate?" by Chris Claremont, Don Perlin, and Bob Wiacek (Man-Thing #7)
"Night of the Death Stalkers" by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer (Tomb of Dracula #7)

...there are also ads for some fun-looking other titles, like Superhero Fun and Games, Western Gunfighters, Captain Britian, and Spider-Man Summer Special.

These three issues were a delight to read, and were very cheap to buy; I think I'll definitely search some more out before long.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Chiller Pocket Book #10 - 1980

sgMore Marvel horror! Dracula lost his cover-headliner status to future movie star, The Man-Thing!

The cover is by John Romita, and the inside stories include:
"A Question of Survival!" by Steve Gerber, Val Mayerik, and Sal Trapani (Fear #18)
"Dracula" by Gerry Conway and Gene Colan (Tomb of Dracula #1)

...interesting how the Dracula stories lapped themselves and started over with TOD #1, like syndicated re-runs of long-running TV shows do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Chiller Pocket Book #6 - 1980

sgThis was one of three super-fun digest-sized comics published by Marvel Comics Limited, presumably their UK branch, that I picked up a few weeks ago. I enjoy searching out many of these foreign compilations of DC and Marvel books; frequently their line-ups of material were way cooler than their American counterparts.

This particular series features Marvel's horror characters, and reprints two stories per issue:
"The Return to Transylvania" by Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan, and Tom Palmer (Tomb of Dracula #68)
"The Salvation Run!" by Tony Isabella, Frank Robbins(yay!), and Vince Colletta (Ghost Rider #18).

...even though these digests are in black and white, the printing sometimes is even worse than what you got with Flexographic, if you can conceive of such a thing. In some panels, lines entirely disappear!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Incredible Hulk Pocket Book #2 - 1979

sg...and we're back!

A while back, Digest Fan(nope, still haven't thought of anything better) Chris Franklin asked if I would be covering any of the DC or Marvels that were later repurposed into paperback books --both companies did an extensive number of them, and they were pretty much digest-sized, and...

I initally said no, since there were a lot of them and I felt like I had to draw the line somewhere. But as the weeks wore on, I heard this Hulk Pocket Book cry out to me from my bookshelf, asking "Why not Hulk get talked about on puny comic blog? Why you hate Hulk? Should Hulk smash stupid computer?"

I couldn't refute that logic, so here we go...

I bought this at a book sale at my elementary school when I was in fourth or fifth grade; looking back its sort of amazing they sold comics at all--maybe the "Pocket Books" logo gave it an aura of respectabillity that a normal comic book wouldn't have.

This one-hundred fifty-page + book reprints a series of Hulk adventures from Tales To Astonish and boy are they fun! I remember reading these(in class!) and literally hanging on every word, wondering where the story was going next.

Stories include:
"The Missile and the Monster" by Stan Lee, John Buscema, and John Tartaglione
"The Birth of the Hulk-Killer!" by Lee, Buscema, and Mick Demeo
"The Humanoid and the Hero!" by
Lee, Buscema, and Mick Demeo
"Boomerang and the Brute!" by Lee and Gil Kane(I loved Kane's brutish take on the green goliath!)
"Then, There Shall Come A Stranger!" by Lee and Kane
"The Abomination!"
by Lee and Kane
"Whosover Harms the Hulk!"
by Lee and Kane
"Turning Point" by Lee, Marie Severin, and Frank Giacoia
"He Who Strikes The Silver Surfer!" by Lee, Severin, and Giacoia
"To The Beckoning Stars!" by Lee, Severin, and Herb Trimpe
"A World He Never Made!" by Lee, Severin, and Trimpe
"What Have I Created?"
by Lee, Severin, and Trimpe
"The Legions of the Living Lightning"
by Lee, Severin, and Trimpe
"The Puppet and the Power!"
by Lee, Severin, and Trimpe
"When The Monster Wakes!" by Lee, Severin, and Tartaglione ends with the Hulk buried in rubble. Is this the end of the Hulk??*

*No, but at that age it seemed like it.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Archie Comics Digest #23 - April 1977

sgHow could I wrap up this first era(or "Season One", if I want to be horribly trendy) of Digest Comics without talking about Archie Comics, the single largest publisher of digest comics ever, and the only one still going at it? Go into any supermarket and head for the registers and odds are you'll find some Archie digests.

In fact, I remember last year, a friend's mother had passed away, and Trace and I were heading out to get a basket of flowers sent. I wanted to include something for their young daughter, who was a huge Archie fan(like her father), so as we drove I said I wanted to stop somewhere and pick some up. We came across an Acme, I went in, and about three minutes later, I walked out with three or four Archie digests in hand. That's how comics should be--you know where they are, you know what you're getting, and then you get them. Period. Thanks, Archie.

Anwyay, I wanted to profile one Archie look on our last day, and I got this one from ebay because A)the price was right, and B)I just love this cover--pretty inventive and dynamic, no? I love that even the Comics Code stamp is in on the action.

The stories included star Archie, Betty and Veronica, Little Archie, Li'l Jinx, Jughead, Pureheart the Powerful, plus the usual puzzle and game pages. Some of this stuff is clearly from 40s and 50s Archie comics, which are really beautiful too look at. Plus we get to see a story set in Ancient Egypt, and features Veronica dressed in a skimpy belly-dancer outfit. Hubba. Hubba.

...and that's it! We've exhausted every single digest I own, and then some. I thank all you digest fans for reading what I was doing, and letting me know how much you enjoyed it. As much as I want this digest to just stand as valuable resource for information on the format, knowing people were reading it every day and enjoying means a lot to me.

And this blog isn't going away or anything--it'll stay here in perpetuity for anyone who wants to refer to it. Plus, like I said earlier, if anyone wants to send a guest review or two(or three, or four...)I'd be thrilled to post 'em. And if I ever add any new ones to my collection I will most certainly put them up here(I'll mention it on my other blogs when I do).

See you at the newsstand!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Archie's Superhero Comics Digest Magazine #2

sgI never got a chance to pick up this book for myself, but luckily Digest Fan Neal Patterson came to the rescue and provides us with our first Guest Review:

It's listed as Number 2, but I never found a Number 1 or any after it. Basically, Archie Comics reprinted several stories from their old horror and superhero books from the late 50s to the late 60s. The book was a pretty mixed bag:
Black Hood--Untitled story and art by Gray Morrow

The Shield--"The Menace of the Micro-Men", no credits, but clearly Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
The Fly--"The Lady and the Monster" No credits, could be Bob White on the art
Horror Story--"The Ultimate Power" art by Wally Wood

The Jaguar
--"The Death Ray from Space" No credits, maybe story by Robert Bernstein and Art by John Rosenberger
The Hangman
--"The Nine Lives of FalseFace" No credits
SuperTeen (Betty as a superhero)
--"SuperTeen Strikes Again" No credits, maybe story by Frank Doyle and Art by Bob White
Black Hood
--"The Black Hood Hits a Sour Note" story by Marvin Channing, art by Al Williamson
Steel Sterling
--"The Awesome Bravo" No credits, maybe story by Abner Sundell and art by Charles Biro
The Web
--"Uglyman's Ugliest Plot" No credits, maybe story by Jerry Siegel and art by Paul Reinman
Pureheart the Powerful (Archie as a superhero)
--"Tarantula's Trap" No credits, maybe story by Frank Doyle and art by Bob White
Horror Story
--"Time Twist" Story by Tom DeFalco, art by Chic Stone
The Fox
--"The Gasser Attacks" No credits. Pretty strong Batman knock-off, right down to the Batmobile-inspired Fox Car
Black Hood
--"Life's Not a Comic Book!" Plot by Gray Morrow, story and art by Neal Adams and Dick Giordano
The Shield
--"The Ultrasonic Spies" No credits, but clearly Joe Simon and Jack Kirby
Horror Story
--"The Beast in the Forest", story by Tom DeFalco, art by Jesse Santos
Chilling Adventures in Sorcery short story
--"A Real Hot Talent" No credits
The Fly
--"The Fly Meets The Cat Girl" No credits, could be Bob White on the art
Black Hood--"It's Murder to Beat the Odds", story by Marvin Channing, art by Al Williamson

What struck me as a 14-year-old buying this digest was the high caliber
of artists involved, even if the stories were a little lame. Anyway, it was worth the 95 cents for that much content.

Wow, you're not kidding, Neal--Gray Morrow, Neal Adams, Wally Wood, Dick Giordano, Al Williamson, and Simon and Kirby? I gotta get me this book!

Thanks Neal!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Mystery Comics Digest #6 - Aug. 1972

sgHmm, while this is a nicely painted cover, it doesn't really look like anything I'd associate with The Twilight Zone. But what the heck--Rod Serling was probably a little busy doing Night Gallery and smoking two cartons a day to oversee some silly comic book.

All these stories are uncredited, unfortunately(though a few have to have been drawn by Dan Spiegle):
"The Shield of Medusa", "Luck in the Twilight Zone", "The Legacy of Hans Burkel", "The Shadow of Fate", "Wings of Death", "No Place to Hyde", "Lost Acre", "Journey Into Jeopardy", "Voyage Into the Twilight Zone", "The Vial of Evil", "The Fortune Hunters", "Doomed to Battle", "Birds of a Feather", "Do Not Touch the Exhibit", "The Doom Days", "The Sinister Satano", "Night Train to Eternity"(oh man, have I been there!), "The Ray of Phobos", and "The Street Where Evil Dwealt."

I know some of you out there are a lot more familiar with the Gold Key digests(Craig, I'm looking in your directon), so if any of you ever want to write up a review of a digest I never got to, please feel free! We'll have our first guest review here tomorrow!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Golden Comics Digest #9 - March 1970

sgAh, Tarzan--another staple of the comics industry of olden days. There was a time he had more titles going than Batman or times change.

Anyway, this tale features the King of the Jungle plus other similar-themed characters, like Korak, Son of Tarzan(nice to see Dad help his son get work) and The Brothers of the Spear.

The main story is an adaptation of the ERB book Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar by Russ Manning, plus:
Tarzan in "The City Under the Sands"(by Dan Spiegle!), "The Guilt of Belazi"
Brothers of the Spear in "Battle in the Boma", and "Tembo! Tembo!"
Korak in "Perilous Passage", and "The Pit"

...over one-hundred and sixty pages of jungle adventure!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery #1 - June 1970

sgGold Key did pretty well with the digests; they had a number of titles in this format that ran for many years. I can't hope to talk about only but the smallest fraction of their output as we wind up the initial run of Digest Comics--maybe over time we'll get to more of them.

Anyway, this is Boris Karloff's very own comic digest, probably another thing that Bela Lugosi was jealous about(although Bela was dead by now, so...), featuring eleven stories all by Dick Wood and Luis Dominguez. They're mostly text stories with Big Little Book-style, intermittent single-page illustrations.

The stories include:
"Terror of the Black Pearl", "Restless Hands", "The Strange Fate of E.Neadle", "Cry Wolf", "Voyage of No Return", "The Well of Fear", "Vengeance of the Castle Creature", "The Iron Mask", "The Quill Pen", "Old Jeb's Bitter Secret", and "Escape Into Fear."

The cover is nice and spooky, too!

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Casper Digest Magazine #4 - April 1987

sgI have a hard time following all the various business manifestations of Harvey Comics--after going on for decades, they closed down, got bought out I think, came back, went away again...reams of legal paperwork, I'm sure.

Anyway, this series started in 1987 and I think was part of the first "comeback" for Harvey and its stable of superstars(Richie Rich I think remains, by sales and number of titles, the single most popular comics star, ever).

There's no table of contents for this issue, and the GCDB offers no info, so I can only guess this series was made up of reprints--they would've been crazy not to, considering the sheer volume of material they had in their archives.

The stories star all the chracters from the Casper family, like Wendy the Good Witch, Spooky, The Ghostly Trio, and of course the dead-child star himself.

This series lasted eighteen issues(hey, longer than Spidey!), and even though Casper never returned to comics full-time, he did eventually become a movie star, so I don't think he'll be gone forever.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dennis The Menace Pocket Full of Fun #23 - Jan. 1975

sgAside from Archie Andrews, I guess you'd have to say Dennis the Menace was the digest format's biggest, longst-running star--Dennis the Menace Pocket Full of Fun was a completely separate digest-sized series that ran for fifty issues, each of them two-hundred pages thick! That's a lot of trouble for Mr. Wilson!

This particular issue features twenty different Dennis stories, all drawn by Hank Ketcham ghost artists who could ape his style perfectly. So while(like I said back when talking about the Marvel Dennis the Menace digest series)I still don't find the strip funny, the artwork is top-notch and a joy to look at.

Interesting note--this issue has one of those Statement of Ownership thingies. This digest series was selling over 140,000 copies each issue--take that, X-Men!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Comic Zone - Fall 2007

sgI'm coming a little late to this; since the news about Disney cancelling its Disney Adventures/Comic Zone digest magazine broke a few months ago.

But it's damn shame, since I think its a troubling sign about comics in general--even the mighty Disney couldn't find a way to make this magazine profitable enough to continue. We should think of this the next time some small publisher runs out of money and cancels a high-quality book. If Disney can't make a buck in comics...

This issue features a ton of material, some of it really fun:
Ratatouille--"Introducing Remy!"
Pirates of the Caribbean--"Breakout"
six pages of Jack Kirby(!)'s adaptation of The Black Hole
The Replacements--"Now You See It!"
Cars--"A Classic Makeover!"
The Jungle Book--"The Bamboo Bandit"
Jet-Pack Pets--"Picnic Panic"
Wulf and Murl--"The Ballad of Wulf and Merl"
Disney's Tall Tails--"A Day At The Races"(this is really unusual; it features art by Glenn McCoy and stars Mickey and Goofy, except they are very stylized and don't look like the usual, corporate-approved versions you'd expect Disney to demand)
Kid Gravity--"Eye Spy"
Gorilla Gorilla by Art Baltazar, which is a really cute feature
"The Last Laugh" by Matt Feazell know, you have to give Disney credit. They could've filled this magazine with bland, corporate-driven material. And while some of it is a little, any book that has work by Jack Kirby and Matt Feazell is pretty darn cool!

I did occasionally buy this magazine for Trace's niece or nephew; now that I know its going away I feel like I should've done that more.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

The X-Files Comics Digest #1 - Dec. 1995

sgOther companies have tried to go the modern-digest route; Topps Comics gave its licensed The X-Files comic the digest treatment in 1995.

The cover is by Miran Kim, and the inside stories include:
"Big Foot, Warm Heart" by Stefan Petrucha and Charles Adlard.

...then the rest of the book is filled with adaptations of Ray Bradbury stories. A nice fit, I would say:
"The Visitor", adapted by P.Craig Russell and Michael Lark (originally from Ray Bradbury Comics Special Edition #1)
"The Foghorn" by Wayne D. Barlow (from Ray Bradbury Comics #3)
"Trapdoor" by Ross MacDonald (from
Ray Bradbury Comics #5)

...the X-Files story isn't bad, and the first and last Bradbury adaptations are a lot of fun. Apparently, that didn't make a difference, since The X-Files Comics Digest only lasted three issues. In 1995 The X-Files was like the hottest show on television, so its surprising to me that the show's rabid fanbase alone couldn't keep the book afloat.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Fiction Illustrated #3 - 1976

sgOf the three issues in this series, #3 is by far the most known, since it features "Red Tide", a book-length detective tale written and drawn by none other than Jim Steranko!

The story is told entirely in book form, with single illustrations alongside prose. It's a lot of fun to read and Steranko's well-known love of the genre shines through.

This series was a neat little experiment; obviously it didn't go over too well(is it a book? a comic?) since it never went past this third volume. And I was never even able to find any info on the first issue!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fiction Illustrated #2 - 1976

sgThis is the second volume of a very obscure series of digests, published by Pyramid Books featuring one, one-hundred and twenty page story. Each book in the series presented a different genre--this second volume features Starfawn, a sci-fi tale, as it says on the cover, "in the Star Trek tradition." It's a mix of standard comic book storytelling mixed with book-style prose.

Starfawn was written and edited by Byron Preiss, with art by Steven Fabian, and coloring by the legendary Marie Severin!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Transformers Comics Magazine #1 - Oct. 1986

sgRemember what I said yesterday about never being all that excited about G.I. Joe? Well, multiply that x100 and you have my indifference towards The Transformers.

I think of The Transformers the same way I think of Bon Jovi--I didn't like them when they first came out and were massively popular, I didn't like them when no one cared about them, and I don't like them now that they're popular again.

I was never a big robot guy, but I loved C3PO and R2D2, because they had humor and pathos and even warmth--the Transformers always seemed like loud, violent, ugly boxes. When they picked Michael Bay to direct the movie I thought "well, of course."

But obviously I'm in the minority, since they've managed to enrapture now two generations, and in 1986 they were big enough to earn a second title, something only Spider-Man and G.I. Joe were able to do. So props to them.

This series lasted ten issues, and featured work by the likes of Bill Mantlo, Bob Budiansky, Ralph Macchio, Ian Akin, Brian Garvey, and others.

Sorry to end the Marvel run of digests on such a downer note, but...come back tomorrow and there'll be some fun and unusual stuff!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

G.I. Joe Comics Magazine #4 - June 1987

sgDuring the brief run of Spider-Man Comics Magazine, Marvel decided to give thier two biggest licensed properties a shot at digest stardom, as well--G.I.Joe, and Transformers.

As a kid, I was pretty indifferent to G.I. Joe as a cartoon, toy, and comic--I've read here and there that it had its moments, and I think its whole setting of cartoonish good guys vs. bad guys probably fit in pretty well with the rest of the Marvel line. But, frankly, I wasn't so interested in finding out that I was willing to go out and get more than one issue(it ran for thirteen) of the digest series to see what it was all about. So this will have to do!

This series reprinted the earlier, smash-hit G.I.Joe book, and this issue features the stories:
"The Diplomat" by Steven Grant, Mike Vosburg, and Chic Stone
"A Nice Little Town Like Ours"by Larry Hama, Vosburg and Stone
"The Pipeline Ploy!" by Hama, Vosburg, and John D'Augustino the other Marvel digest series, this was subject to the dreaded Flexographic printing process, but this issue at least doesn't look too bad. Garish, but no giant blobs of colored mush on people's faces, either. An unusual touch was the inside covers were full-color, something you hardly--if ever--saw before.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #13 - Jan. 1989

sgThis has to be the oddest announcement of a title's cancellation. As you can see, the cover asks "Is this the end of Spider-Man Comics Magazine?"

Well, nowhere on the inside does it say whether it was or not(it was), so what's the with coyness? What a way to leave a reader hanging!

The final collection of Lee/Romita ASM tales are:
"Beware...The Black Widow!", "Unmasked At Last!", and "The Reprehensible Riddle of the Sorcerer", which was the debut of Ross Andru as the new Spidey artist!

Also included is the Black Widow entry from the Handbook, courtesy Frank Miller.

...and that was it. No announcement, no goodbye, nothin'. Marvel tried the digest experiment with Spidey and a few licensed properties(which we'll talk about tomorrow), and then they, like DC, packed it in.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #12 - Nov. 1988

sgQuite possibly Flexographic's worst issue--the coloring is all over the place, as if someone kept bumping the machine. Oy. Since this is a special issue, the horrible printing hurts even worse.

This time Marvel chose to reprint the extra-long story from
The Spectacular Spider-Man #2, their brief attempt at a Spidey magazine, instead of consecutive ASM issues. Why, who knows, but it was a nice treat since so few people ever saw the original from 1968.

...there's also Green Goblin's listing from The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe. Too bad they couldn't find room for the original cover, which was a painting based on Romita's cover.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #11 - Sept. 1988

sgNever, but never, have Flexographic try to print a story featuring lots of snowflakes.

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "The Schemer!"(featuring one of Romita's best splash pages, where the bad guy incorporates the story title into his speech), "The Kingpin Strikes Back!", and "The Secret of the Schemer"

...the little bonus this issue is the Kingpin listing from The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe, featuring David Mazzucchelli's imposing take.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #10 - July 1988

sgFlexographic was having a bad day this went to press. Nothing like big pink splotches on Spidey!

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are:"On The Trail of the Chameleon", "The Coming of the Kangaroo!", and "Then Came Electro!"

...and instead of reprinting one of the original ASM covers they occasionally did, Marvel reprints the cover of Marvel Tales #63, which first reprinted the Electro story. Sure, the MT cover by Romita was a new one, but now Marvel is reprinting reprint titles?

Monday, October 8, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #9 - May 1988

sgWhat's with that Attention: Retailers blurb? I've seen it before and never understood why it needed to printed right on the comic. Can't they send a separate single piece of paper or something? Hey, Marvel, leave me out of the business--I just want to read my Lee/Romita Spider-Mans in peace!

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "In The Blaze of Battle!", "The Night of the Prowler!", and "To Prowl No More!"(gee, that was fast)

I always thought the Prowler was a neat villain--not a bad gimmick and a really cool costume. Too bad he never quite made it to the Hall of Fame of Spidey villains.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #8 - March 1988

sgMore classic Spidey adventures. Flexographic was little more on their game this issue.

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "If This Be Bedlam!", "Death Without Warning!". and "The Lizard Lives!"

The Daily Bugle is back for this issue, and an ad for the Rocky & Bullwinkle comic Marvel was starting up. Man, anyone remember that?

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #7 - Jan. 1988

sgMore classic Spidey adventures. Somehow the colors are even brighter this issue, requiring sunglasses to read it. Is there something higher than 100% red?

The Lee/Romita issues of ASM included are: "The Speedster and the Spider", "Rocked by The Shocker"(which I believe was a Scorpions album title), and "The Web Closes"

Am I the only one who thinks Arnold Schwarzenegger should play Man Mountain Marko in Spider-Man 4?

Friday, October 5, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #6 - Nov. 1987

sgMore classic Spidey adventures. I'd say on the Flexographic scale, this issue's an 5--I gave a copy of this to my nephew when he was in his Spidey phase, and when I saw him next he complained, "Uncle Bob, I couldn't read it!"

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "Crisis on the Campus", "Mission: Crush the Kingpin", and "Spider-Man Wanted." that cover, though. Kingpin has never looked so massive.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #5 - Sept. 1987

sgMore classic Spidey adventures. I'd say on the Flexographic scale, this issue's an 8. Keep reaching for the stars!

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "The Impossible Escape"(a classic among classics), "The Madness of Mysterio", and "To Squash a Spider!"

...after getting rid of the Daily Bugle feature last issue, Marvel now eliminates the table of contents page, too. I guess they needed space for more Transformers ads!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #4 - July 1987

sgMore classic Spidey adventures. I'd say on the Flexographic scale, 1 being unreadable and 10 being acceptable(which was the best they could achieve), I give this issue a 6.

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "Make Way For Medusa", "Wings in the Night", and "The Vulture's Prey." seems the Daily Bugles are gone for good, replaced by ads. *sigh*

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #3 - May 1987

sgOk, after one good issue with Flexographic printing, this issue is a classic example of everything that was wrong with the process: splotchy colors, dropped lines, and, as always, the eye-gouging colors. Unfortunately, Marvel would stick with Flexographic printing for the remainder of the series, dooming an entire readership to a future of corrective-lense wearing.

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "The Brand of the Brainwasher", "O, Bitter Victory", and "What A Tangled Web We Weave"

...there's not even that Daily Bugle page included, instead we get a Kingpin-up(ha!) that's just a shot of him lifted from a cover. I'm losing faith here, Marvel!

Monday, October 1, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #2 - March 1987

sgMarvel must have gotten a look at the first issue of SMCM, and was as unhappy with the printing as the readers must have been. So with this issue they went the with the dreaded Flexographic printing process--Good Lord! *Choke!*

Actually, other than the garish colors, the effect isn't too bad--there aren't too many weird glitches and the lines now are much sharper and clearer than the first issue.

The Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man included are: "The Tentacles and the Trap", "Doc Ock Wins", and "Disaster"

...after a shaky first issue, Spider-Man Comics Magazine is on track!

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Spider-Man Comics Magazine #1 - Jan. 1987

sgRight after DC had given up on the digests, Marvel decided to give it a go. Since Dennis the Menace wasn't quite able to jumpstart a line of digests, Marvel wisely went to their biggest star--Spider-Man!

This first volume reprints three classic Lee/Romita issues of Amazing Spider-Man:
"In the Clutches of the Kingpin" (ASM #51), "To Die A Hero" (ASM #52), and "Enter: Dr.Octopus" (ASM #53)

...I wondered why Marvel was running these sequential stories when they were already doing it in Marvel Tales, then Digest Fan(still gotta work on that) Chris Franklin pointed out this was when MT made the switchover from reprinting the Lee/Romita stories to issues of Marvel Team-Up, so presumably Marvel thought they could just continue them here.

Fine idea, the only problem being the printing in these books is atrocious--the printing is so light in some place its impossible to read the words, and a lot of the coloring is faint and blotched out. And unfortunately, things would only get worse.

This issue also comes with a cute Daily Bugle page, giving you brief rundowns of what's going on in all the Spidey titles.

A shaky start.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Star Comics Magazine #1 - Dec. 1985

sgAnother odd little diversion in Marvel's publishing history was Star Comics--a briefly-running line of kids comics featuring licensed characters like Heathcliff, The Muppet Babies, Ewoks, and some "original" characters(I put that in quotes because--c'mon, Marvel--"Royal Roy", a comic about a rich kid, drawn by Warren Kremer, no less? How'd that not generate a lawsuit?)

While I thought Marvel should've been commended for trying a new line like Star, as it is in many cases like this, the execution was perplexing--the titles were mediocre at best, and were the kinds of little kids comics that might've been popular twenty years earlier. But by 1985, they seemed woefully oldhat, even by little kid standards.

But Marvel did try, and as you can see they even put together a Star anthology title, Star Comics Magazine, which lasted a whopping thirteen issues--tied with Spider-Man Comics Magazine(showing up here tomorrow) for the title of Marvel's longest-running digest book. So it worked for a little while!

Stories include:
Heathcliff in "The Cat-Napping Caper" by Joe Edwards and Warren Kremer
Ewoks in "The Rainbow Bridge" by Dave Manak, Kremer, and Marie Severin (these stories are canon, right Mr. Lucas?)
Top Dog in "The Dog-Gone Beginning" by Lennie Herman and Kremer
The Muppet Babies in "The Haunted Nursery" by Stan Kaye and Severin

...points to Marvel for trying!

Friday, September 28, 2007

Dennis The Menace #3 - August 1982

sgThe third and final Dennis digest--hey, I just noticed--Marvel Digest Group? What's that about?

Stories include:
"The Case of the Soggie Doggies", "Rough & Tough", "The Day The Sun Went Out", "Ruff's Family Tree", "Short and Sweet", "Movie Mischief", "Ring Around A Margaret", "Ruff the Beachcomber", "Dog Days", "The Quitter Sitter", and "A Ruff Life."

Was Marvel maybe thinking of a whole digest line? If so, grabbing the rights to a comic strip that was past
its prime seemed like an odd way to go--Garfield Comics Digest woulda been a smash at the time--so this title remains an obscure blip in Marvel's publishing history.

Ketcham's art, however, remains cool--even if this stuff is ghosted from his style(thanks for the tip Craig!).

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Dennis the Menace #2 - June 1982

sgOne thing you could say about these Dennis digests--they had really handsome covers. I love the white background strong central image. Nicely drawn and composed.

Stories include:
"High Steaks", "Unfinished Business", "Not Quite Suitable", "Strictly Against The Birds", "The Guessing Game", "On Your Market", "All Boxed In", "Butterfly Business", "The Texas Stranger", "Surprise", "For Goodness Sake", "The Big Flap", "Dennis Mows 'Em Down", and "Energy Crisis."

There's also some puzzle pages on the inside covers, something Marvel never did much of. Maybe these were reprints or material prepared by others for another purpose?

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Dennis the Menace #1 - April 1982

sgMarvel's first real foray into digests didn't star Spider-Man, Hulk, the X-Men, or any other staple of the House of Ideas, but Dennis the Menace!

Dennis had just received his own monthly title from Marvel a few month earlier, and I guess the initial sales were strong enough for them to give the little tyke a second title. Unfortunately, neither Dennis title lasted too long--the monthly regular book ended with #13, and this digest only ran three issues.

As a kid, I never gave a second thought to Dennis the Menace as a comic strip--I didn't think it was funny and the art did nothing for me. But as I've gotten older, I've come to really appreciate Hank Ketchum's beautiful linework and sense of design. And while I still don't think Dennis is funny, looking at the strips themselves is a joy to behold.

These Dennis stories though are not strip reprints--they're long-form comic book stories that are(as far as I know) original, either done by Ketchum or(more likely) a stable of assistants and ghost artists. The stories included are: "Tag-Along Trouble", "Dennis the Golfer", "The Kitty Catchers", "All Gummed Up", "The Amazement Park", "The Compact Car Caper", "Always a Lady", "Cake Walk", "The Dog Snatchers", "A Case of School-itis", "Dennis the Salesman", and "Dennis Vs. The Zoo."

This first issue even has a one-page Margaret strip and a "How to Draw Dennis' Dad" feature page, making for a fun package.

Update: As DigestFan Craig Wichman pointed out in the comments section, what the heck is a DC plug doing on the UPC code of a Marvel comic? I can't believe I missed that!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Die Fantastischen Vier #13 - Marvel

sgI thought since we ended our loooong run of DC digests with a foreign-market edition(well, almost), I could make a nice smooth transition to Marvel digests(as few of them as there are) by talking about one of their foreign editions. How'd I do?

This book is a whopping 164 pages thick, with only a handful of ads, reprinting a whole series of issues from John Byrne's delightful run on The Fantastic Four(around #s 242-247).

I like the old school FF on the logo("Dr. Reed Richards, Susan Richards, Ben, das Ding, Johnny, die Fackel") and the mis-colored Daredevil so he looks a lot like Captain America.

Byrne's clean, simple artwork reproduces down just wonderfully, and the story moves along at such a clip I wish Marvel, like I wish DC had yesterday, had reprinted Byrne's FF run as a digest comic in America.

Strangely, on the inside back cover, there's an ad for Epic Illustrated, of all things, and on the back for Masters of the Universe Comic-Magazin, headlined with the phrase "Bei der Macht von CASTLE GRAYKSULL"...some things are just universal, I guess.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #47 Unused Cover - 1984

sgWe were just a few hours away to switching from DC to Marvel digests; but this last minute, call-from-the-governor-style stay of execution is courtesy Alex Johnson, previously exclusively a contributor of material to in the form of swell Sheldon Mayer Rudolph original art.

But Alex found this open auction of an original Sheldon Mayer piece that was originally meant to be the back cover for
Best of DC #47 , but was not used for some reason.

Alex is superb at finding this neat stuff; and he offered to look for more if I wanted to see it. Absolutely, sir!

As usual with a Sheldon Mayer piece, its beautifully composed with great lights and darks and smooth-as-silk linework. Nice find, Alex and nice work, Mr.Mayer.

Ok, tomorrow--Marvel digests, no foolin'!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Batman Pocket NR.1 - 1979

sgYou find the oddest things on ebay!

This is a digest-sized collection of Batman tales from Brave and the Bold(plus two Robin solo stories), completely in Dutch! As you can see, they left off all the cover copy, so this cover, with the Teen Titans beating the crap out of Batman as Robin eggs them on, is even weirder than it was originally.

The stories reprinted are:
"Look Homeward, Runaway" by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo(Bats and the Titans, B&B #149)
"Today, Gotham, Tomorrow the World!" by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo(Batman and Superman, B&B #150)"Disco of Death" by Bob Haney and Jim Aparo(Batman and Flash, B&B #151) the two Robin solo stories, by Bob Rozakis and Juan Ortiz and Rozakis and Kurt Schaffenberger, that I couldn't quite find the sources for. If only I'd spoke Dutch...

The paper stock is much nicer than the regular digests at the time(it's closer to the bright white Mando stock DC would eventually move onto in a few years), and it makes for a really handsome collection. I wish DC had done a
Brave and the Bold digest collection of some of this material for those of us who can't read Dutch!

This is, for all intents and purposes, the
last DC digest to be indexed for the blog. There are a few more volumes of the aforementioned Cartoon Network titles I didn't get to, but I don't really see the point of hunting them down. And now that DC has retired the format(again!), I think we can safely say there won't be any new DC digests...for a long time, at least.

I had thought about wrapping it all up with yesterday's
Tarzan, since it was DC's first ever digest and that would've been nice, in a complete-the-circle kind of way. But I decided to not be so melodramatic and go out silly with this.

Starting tomorrow we'll talk about Marvel's brief foray into digests, and hopefully I've still got a few surprises left before I pack up and turn off the lights at
Digest Comics.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

Tarzan Digest #1 - 1972

sgI probably should've started this blog here, since its DC's first-ever digest, released in 1972 collecting a whole bunch of Russ Manning Tarzan Sunday strips that DC didn't have anything to do with!

Clocking in at a whopping 164 pages, it must not have set the world on fire, since they never did another Tarzan collection, or any other digest, until 1979. This single release remains an odd little curio in DC's publishing history.

There are only three stories in this thick book, but they're all pretty long. They include:
"Tarzan and the Rite of the Great Apes"
"Tarzan and the Ant-Men"
"Tarzan and the Attack of the Beast-Men" little featurettes like "Tarzan's Jungle Lore", "Tarzan's Illustrated Ape-English Dictionary"(!) and two full-page ads for DC's current Tarzan titles, Tarzan the Ape Man and Korak, Son of Tarzan.

The spiffy cover, repeated on the back as well, is by Joe Kubert. (cue Tarzan yell)

Friday, September 21, 2007

Tarzan Digest Ad - 1972

sgThis sweet ad for DC's sole 1972 Tarzan Digest is courtesy Craig Wichman, who holds the distinction of contributing material to all three of my blogs, a Blogging Hat Trick, if you will.

Craig is a member of F.O.A.M.(Friend of AquaMan), a BWFF(Black and White Friend Forever), and...whatever designation is appropriate for here, I've yet to come up with something(sorry, Craig).

Anyway, it's a way cool ad, and probably the only one DC ever ran for the book...they generally advertised the digests much less than they did
the treasuries.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Daffy Duck #1 - 2005

sgNot to be outdone, Daffy Duck got his own digest volume. And like Bugs', just this one issue. I've always loved Daffy Duck--I just wanted to say that.

Stories include:
"The Trouble with Mars", "A Pizza On My Mind", "Wise Quacker", "The Devilish Desperado", "Speed Trap", "One for the Books", "Be My Pest", "Stiff Upper Beak", "All's Weight That Ends Weight", "The Midnight Ride of Duck Revere", "A Vase in the Crowd", and "So You Want A Million Bucks, Eh?"

...and that's it for the modern-day digests DC tried their hand at during 2004-2006. Like I said when we started these, I bought every one that came out either for myself or to give away.

I wanted this digest format to work out so bad that I bought books I would normally not get, and I'm frustrated at the weird choices DC made on how to market these--limited distribution, erratic publishing schedule, and high price-point. Now that the newest collections are standard TPB size, I guess we officially say the digest format at DC is done and gone.

But who knows? Maybe some future comics superstar who grew up on the digests will come along and demand his or her books be put in a digest, like Alex Ross did for the treasury-sized comic. I won't hold my breath, though.

Tomorrow we go back to the past and talk about DC's very first digest!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Bugs Bunny #1 - 2005

sgThere was time when Bugs Bunny was a staple of comic book publishing, appearing as regularly as Mickey Mouse, Tarzan, or Superman.

Sadly, that time is long past and even though Bugs still does appear in the monthly DC Looney Tunes title, that book is done by official decree from the higher-ups at Warner Bros. and all the enthusiasm that comes from being forced to do something. DC once admitted to Kyle Baker, who expressed interest in doing some Bugs material, that the book doesn't make a dime and they only do it because they have to.

That led Baker to muse(in an interview with The Comics Journal about five-six years ago) that if you're an up-and-coming creative, you'd give your right arm to create a character a tenth as popular and enduring as Bugs Bunny. He said his kids love Bugs Bunny, and that any company that can't make money from Bugs "should get out of the business." Well said, Mr. B.

Anyway, on that sad note, Bugs and the other Looney Tunes star in:
"Working Out the Bugs", "Hari-ed By The Mob", "Hat Trick", "Precious Cargo", "Bad Hare Day", "Rocky Road", "The Old Brawl Game", "Twuce or Consequences", "X Marks the Bugs", "Femme Fatale", "Ten Pin Alley", and "Rabbit Recovery."

This was the only volume published, sadly.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Cartoon Network Block Party! #1 - 2005

sgI'm not sure what the difference was supposed to be between this anthology book and the earlier Cartoon Cartoons, since it contains pretty all much all the same features as that book.

Stories include:
Dexter's Labratory in "Beast Master" and "Dee-Dee Fo-Fum"
Ed, Edd, and Eddy in "Eds on Wheels" and "Luck of the Ed"
Courage the Cowardly Dog in "Vegan Invasion!" and "Small Problem"
Johnny Bravo in "To Sea or Not To Sea" and "Twinkle Toes"
Grim & Evil in "Central Junction: Where's Your Function?"
Kids Next Door in "Operation A.I.R.P.L.A.N.E.", "Operation G.R.A.N.D.A.D.", and "Operation S.O.D.A."

This title lasted four issues, again published at an erratic rate. The last one came out in 2006, so I assume if they ever did another one it would be in the standard TPB format DC is now using for Cartoon Network collections.