Monday, April 30, 2007

Jonah Hex And Other Western Tales #2 - Dec. 1979

Another beautiful cover by Luis Dominguez, another collection of hard-bitten, hard-shootin' tales of the old west! Like the previous Jonah Hex digest, this collection devotes space to many of DC's western characters.

Stories include:
• Jonah Hex in "Blood Brothers" by Arnold Drake and Tony DeZuniga
Billy the Kid in "Billy the Kid--Killer!" by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga 
El Diablo in "Never Kill A Demon!" by Cary Bates and Neal Adams (man, how did El Diablo not become a huge hit with stories that looked this good?) 
Jonah Hex in "Grasshopper Courage" by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga 
Scalphunter in "Mark of the Warrior!" by Michael Fleisher, Dick Ayers, and George Evans 
• The next story is a real treat--"Anachronism" by Don Kaar and Alex Toth! You can always depend on Toth for unusual storytelling, and this story is no different--the entire tale is told horizontally, so you have to flip the book sideways to read it 
Jonah Hex in "Promise to a Princess" by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga

...and finally is a one page feature "The Old West: Fiction vs. Fact" by the always-entertaining Mike W. Barr and drawn by Mike Nasser.

Giddyap, pardner!


Sunday, April 29, 2007

Jonah Hex And Other Western Tales #1 - Oct. 1979

Ok, I've taken the pulse of you, the audience, and the one common theme among all of the opinions is variety, especially since over time the digests basically went back and forth between Superman and Funny Stuff for what seemed like forever.

And since I also want this site to be of use as reference guide for the digests
, I thought the best way to satisfy everybody was to index the digests in chronological order, and jump from title to title, that way we get a nice variety. So we need to play a little catch up!

Released the same month as Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #1 was this, a digest series entirely devoted to Jonah Hex. Huh? Since I think its a safe bet that Jonah Hex was not (and never did) outselling Superman or Batman, you have to wonder why did he get his own digest book ahead of the DC's bigger stars? I have no evidence to back this up, but the only thing that makes sense is that DC was trying to market Hex to a slightly different audience (older?) so instead of folding him into the regular digest rotation, they gave him his own series. Anyone else have a better idea?

Anyway, behind the strking cover by Luis Dominguez is a collection of Jonah Hex and, yes, other western tales:
Jonah Hex in "The Hundred Dollar Deal" by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga 
El Diablo in "Night of the Living Dead"(!) by Cary Bates and...Neal Adams(!!). 
Jonah Hex in the two-part "The Point Phyrrus Massacre" by Michael Fleisher and Tony DeZuniga, with that mysterious "Script Continuity: Russel Carley" credit you saw in some DC comics once in a while. 
Billy the Kid in "Bullet for a Gambler" by John Albano and Tony DeZuniga 
Scalphunter in "Scalphunter" by Michael Fleisher, Dick Ayers, and George Evans

...and in lieu of their usual text piece for the inside back cover, we get "Notebook of a Gunfighter" a one-page feature on gunfightin' lore, written by Michael Fleisher and drawn by ER Cruz.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #6 - Aug. 1980

As with the treasuries, we see that even from the beginning, Superman was going to be the major star of the digests. The sheer volume of material, even by this point, was so massive that DC could come up with any theme they'd like and they'd be able to cobble together enough material to fill a book, like this issue's "Daily Planet" theme. The handsome, what-the? cover is by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano, with a cool back cover made up of Planet headlines.

The stories include:
• "Clark Kent's Masquerade as Superman" by Otto Binder and Al Plastino

"How Lois Lane Got Her Job" by Otto Binder and Kurt Schaffenberger (man, Schaffenberger really brought it to these very silly stories)

"Jimmy Olsen's 1000th Scoop" by Robert Bernstein(?) and Curt Swan

"The Super Cigars of Perry White" (a story so insane it almost approaches surrealism) by Elliott S! Maggin and Curt Swan

"Clark Kent, Gentleman Journalist" by Bill Finger and with a really nice art job by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye

"Dear Dr. Cupid" by Jerry Siegel and Kurt Schaffenberger

"The Last Headline" by Martin Pasko, Curt Swan, and the late, great Tex Blaisdell (my old Kubert School teacher!)

"The Superman Spectaculars" by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye

"Jimmy Olsen, Editor In Chief!" by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, and George Klein

"The End of the Planet!"(!) by Edmund Hamilton and Al Plastino

...all topped off with a text piece by ENB all about the Daily Planet.

By the way, the covers sort of refers to the first story, where Clark Kent decides to pretend to be Superman, when of course we all know that's impossible!

Friday, April 27, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #5 - June 1980

This was one of my favorite inventions for the digests--DC's yearly "best of" compilations, the closest comics would come to an Oscar ceremony. You can see they comissioned a cover (by Ross Andru and Dick Giordano) to make that connection even more explicit.

I've always liked covers with heroes palling around, and as a kid I would read into who was seated with who (why is Aquaman all the way in the back? no way would Ollie let Dinah sit next to Travis Morgan!). Also, DC added 32 pages to the book, but didn't charge any more. Those were the days, eh?

DC's self-picked best stories of 1979 were:
"Miracle Man of Easy Co." by Cary Bates, Joe Staton, and Jack Abel (DC Comics Presents #10)
Deadman in "Never Say Die" by Len Wein and Jose Luis Garcia Lopez (Adventure Comics #466)
Jonah Hex in "Minister of the Lord" by Michael Fleisher and Luis Dominguez (Jonah Hex #24)
Superboy in "The Shadow of Jor-El" by Cary Bates, Joe Staton, and Frank Chiaramonte (Superman Family #196)
"The Mouse of History" by Don Thompson(!) and Rubeny(?) (House of Mystery #267)
Guess who in "The Curse of Crime Alley" by Denny O'Neil, Don Newton, and Dan Adkins (Detective Comics #483)
"Clark Kent's Mynah Dilemma" by Cary Bates, Kurt Schaffenberger, and Dave Hunt (Superman Family #197)
The Haunted Tank in "Back Door to War" by Robert Kanigher and Sam Glanzman (G.I.Combat #213)
"Papa Don" by Greg Potter and "Holy Panaligan" (that's gotta be a pseudonym) (Secrets of the Haunted House #17)
Superman in "The Fall and the Rise of The Star-Child" by Cary Bates, Curt Swan, and Frank Chiaramonte (Action Comics #502) addition to all this, there's a "best covers of the year" gallery, a "who's who on the cover" feature (plus one featuring the back cover, starring DC staffers like Joe Orlando, Jennette Kahn, Ross Andru, and Bob Rozakis), and a text piece by E.Nelson Bridwell. Sa-weet!
Before I move onto BODCBRD#6 (whew!), I have a question for anyone who's started to read this blog: my original intention was to start with DC's first digest, Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #1, and go sequentially from there, all the way until its final issue, #71.

But right around the release of this digest, #5, DC started another title, DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest, which was published concurrently. Should I alternate between the two digest titles when posting, or go straight through one title then start over with the next one (other digest titles, like DC Special Series and the final year of Adventure Comics, could get thrown into the mix down the line as well)?

It's up you!

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #4 - April 1980

Ho ho ho! It's digest time for everyone's favorite non-copyrightable comic book star, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer!

As I previously discussed on my treasury "lost treasuries" page, it's safe to say that this Rudolph digest was originally meant to be a treasury/tabloid comic--first, Rudolph was as popular as Superman and Batman, in terms of being the star of his own treasuries. Second, this book features several pages of puzzles and games, a regular feature with the treasury books but pretty much unheard of with the digests.

This book features reprints of the great Sheldon Mayer's Rudolph comic, with these stories: "Christmas Magic", "The Land Behind the Sky-Holes", "Will A Stitch In Time Save Christmas?", and "The Secret of the Lucky Dragon's Egg."

Like the Super Friends digest, this makes an ideal book for little kids who are just getting into comics. Nice stories, nice art, and at a hundred pages, a whole lot of it!


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #3 - Feb. 1980

I think this is one of my all-time favorite collections. Not only is the cover--by Jose Luis Garcia Lopez, Robert Smith (?), and Joe Orlando--a beautiful, simple, happy image--but it's a truly inspired collection of stories. You can tell real thought was put into this book.

Throughout the book are three Super Friends stories:
"The Cosmic Hit Man",
"Riddles and Rockets", and "The Monster Menace", all by E.Nelson Bridwell, the always-great Ramona Fradon, and Bob Smith. The SF book was always one of my favorites growing up--pure fun and adventure by a crack creative team.

Interspersed with those is the classic "Man--Thy Name is Brother" by Gardner Fox, Mike Sekowsky, and Sid Greene, from Justice League of America #57, where Snapper Carr, Flash, Hawkman, and Green Arrow attempt to help some kids in their attempts to succeed in life. It's definitely an off-beat story, and while it's hardly subtle (the last line of the story: "What a world it will be when mankind is--kind to man!"), it's heart is in the right place and is the perfect kind of story for the kind of young kids reading The Super Friends.

The other story, the Teen Titans in "Eye of the Beholder", by Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Bill Draut, is a similarly heavy-handed "message" story, but it's still fun and well-intentioned, and is another great pick for this book.

And as if that wasn't enough, there's a one-page text piece about the history of DC heroes teaming up. No kid could've spent their 95 cents better than this!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #2 - Dec. 1979

sgFor DC's second digest, Batman was the obvious choice as star. Indeed, as we'll see over time, DC basically went back and forth between their two biggest stars with some other characters thrown in when it came time for digests.

Again, DC tried to do something special and used a rare painted cover--even if it itself is a reprint, having first been used for a Batman treasury comic (have a special format Batman book? use this painting--DC eds.).

The stories were broken up into decades. From the 1940's, the stories were:
"The People Vs. Batman", by Bill Finger and Jerry Robinson
"Alfred, Armchair Detective" by an unknown writer and Robinson
"The 1,000 Secrets of the Batcave" by Finger and Robinson

The 1950s: "The First Batman" by Finger, Bob Kane, and Sheldon Moldoff
"Murder at Mystery Castle" by Finger, Kane, and Moldoff

The 1960s: "The Cry of the Night is Kill" by Mike Friedrich, Bob Brown, and Joe Giella

The 1970s: the classic "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge" by (who else?) Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams this book has some covers representing each era, and an inside-back cover text piece by Mike W. Barr (for my money, Barr wrote the best text pieces in the biz--informative, yet witty and interesting with a distinctive point of view). All in all, a very nice package and a solid sample of Batman's long (even by that point!) career.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #1 - Oct. 1979

sgWelcome to Digest Comics!

This blog was created when the page I had devoted to the format, When Formats Clash!, had to be deleted from my other odd-comics-format site,, due to space limitations.

But I love the digest comic too, and for awhile I had wanted to do more than just show some covers, as I had previously. So I figured, along with maintaining, the aquaman shrine, all in black & white for 75 cents, plus my pro illustration site, and my darlin' Tracy's art and photography site, what's one more?

So I intend at first to talk about my complete (yesss!) collection of DC digest comics (since they were my favorites growing up), profiling them in order, per series. And if people come here, and read and enjoy what I'm doing, then maybe I'll keep going and explore other companies' digest comics, too.

DC kicked off a big push of digest-sized (6 1/2 x 5") comics with this, the first issue of The Best of DC #1, Sept./Oct. 1979. And of course, who else were they going to start off with than The Man of Steel? Nice painted cover by Ross Andru, Dick Giordano, and Joe Orlando.

Stories include:
"Attack by the Army of Tomorrow!" by Elliott S! Maggin, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson
"The Midnight Murder Show" by Cary Bates, Swan, and Kurt Schaffenberger
"Superman Under the Red Sun" by Edmond Hamilton and Al Plastino
"The Adventures of Mental Man" by Bill Finger, Wayne Boring, and Stan Kaye
"Lex Luthor, Hero!" by Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan, and George Klein.

This book also features some fun mini-features, like a section on Superman's Rogues Gallery, "Superman's Costume and Clark Kent's Clothes", a text piece called "Clark Kent's Other Jobs", and a really weird two-page section called "Play the Graffitti Game with Superman", which features different DC artists trying their hand at changing Superman/Clark Kent's look! In just these two small pages, we get little sketches by Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Joe Orlando, Dick Dillin, Dick Giordano, Irv Novick, Sergio Aragones, Michael Kaluta, and Howard Chaykin. Wow!
Ok! That's our first digest! If you found this site and enjoy it, let me know! I'll be adding a new digest as regularly as I can--as a great man once said, be here--it'll be fun!