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!