Sunday, September 24, 2017

Marvel Comics Digest #2: The Avengers

Marvel Comics Digest #2: Avengers is currently on sale. We talk about it over on DigestCast!

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Marvel Comics Digest Coming in June!

Well, this is exciting news!

Marvel Comics announced this June they will start publishing a line of digest-sized comics that will be "designed, packaged, and distributed" by Archie Comics, for distribution in "big box retailers, comic shops, and newsstands"! The series will be called Marvel Comics Digest and will be published six times a year.

For a digest comics fan like myself, this news is simply amazing. Not only is Marvel finally getting into the digest game, after their brief attempt in 1987, but they are ensuring that these books will be getting in front of the right audience--namely, kids. And how are they doing that? By teaming up with the industry leader, Archie! Excelsior, what a great idea! Archie has owned the digest format for a quarter century, so it only makes sense. Great move all around!

Rest assured we'll be covering this new series on future episodes of DigestCast!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The Daily Planet - July 1981

Nice to see the Supergirl digest getting such a prime advertising spot on The Daily Planet! Scan courtesy the Comic Book Ad FB page.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Mystery Comics Digest #23 - Gold Key

Behind a typically gorgeous cover, this edition of Mystery Comics Digest (May 1975) features eighteen "spine-tinglers in the Karloff tradition!"

  • "Lo! The Mighty Hunter"
  • "The Man Who Thought He Had Wings"
  • "The Phone to the Past"
  • "The Room That Never Grew Old"
  • "Benefactors From Worlds Beyond"
  • "The Face in the Jewel"
  • "The Gypsy Curse"
  • "The Room of Madness"
  • "Pictures at an Execution"
  • "The Dragon Tattoo"
  • "The Death Bell"
  • "Disaster in 3D"
  • "The Scavengers"
  • "The Plague of Gornau"
  • "The Metamorphs"
  • "One For The Herd"
  • "When Children Speak"
  • "Monster Mountain"

I have to admit, I didn't find a single one of these stories even remotely scary. Dell/Gold Key prided itself on being family entertainment (they never submitted their comics to the CCA, objecting to the very suggestion that their publications even needed such review), so you can imagine it'd be kind of hard to do horror comics in that context. But, of course, these books weren't meant for me, reading them in 2016. I'm sure these comics were read on many a family vacation by kids eager to pass the time. I mean, over 125 pages of comics for a measly 69c is quite a deal.

The artwork (entirely uncredited) is pretty serviceable to the point of being bland, except for one story, "The Face in the Jewel", which stands out thanks to the visuals. Still, the book is a nice little package and seeing it makes me wish DC, Marvel, or maybe even Warren had tried such a thing with their horror comics!

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The Daily Planet - March 1980

No sooner did I say it was "impossible" to find DC house ads for their digests then I found this big plug for Best of DC Digest #6. Above the fold and everything!

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Archie Andrews Where Are You Ad

A typically eye-popping ad for yet another Archie digest. It's amazing to think that Archie Comics made enough money from a single digest that it was financially worth it to them to build a whole ad around it. I'm sending my 75 cents in coin right now!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Ask The Answer Man: Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales

Finding ads for DC digests outside of the handful they initially did when launching the line is incredibly tough. Impossible, actually, since it seems DC simply stopped doing ads for their digest line much past 1981. So even the briefest mention--like in this December 1979 installment of "Ask The Answer Man" regarding Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales--catches my attention!

Monday, December 8, 2014

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #15 Color Guide

Another DC color guide courtesy DigestFan Jon Knutson. Gotta love those Ross Andru cover designs--on the front alone he manages to work in 14 figures and it doesn't look crowded!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Archie Comics Digest Ad

Courtesy DigestFan Steven Thompson (he of Booksteve's Library) comes this ginchy ad for the Archie digests--in fact, the very first Archie digest! There was no way of knowing that with this release, Archie would end up becoming the dominant--and only remaining--publisher of the format, forty years later. In fact, head to your local supermarket and pick some Archie digests up today!

Thanks Steven!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Best of DC Blue Ribbon Digest #37 Color Guide

Another DC color guide courtesy DigestFan Jon Knutson. A beautifully designed cover, featuring the always great Sheldon Mayer and an unknown DC staffer.

Friday, November 28, 2014

DC Pocket Books Ad

Kind of an oddly staged ad for these international pocketbook editions of DC books--it looks like Batman is enraged and massacring some thugs, and Superman is there to calm his friend down. Good luck with that, Clark!

I only have one of these pocket books, but I want to find some more. They're really fun, even if I can't read them!


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Superman Adventures: The Man of Steel

As I said yesterday, DC released two digest-sized Superman collections to tie in with their "Superman at 75" celebration, with little to no pre-release hype. I didn't even know they existed until Nuclear Sub Kyle Benning pointed them out to me after we did a digest-themed episode of The Fire and Water Podcast.

Squarebound with cardstock covers, these books were cover priced $9.99 which is a bit much, nevertheless they make for a handsome package. Superman Adventures: The Man of Steel reprints stories from:

Superman and Batman Magazine #s 1,3,5,7
Superman Adventures of Superman #s 17,18,40,41
Justice League Unlimited #34

I have yet to see any evidence DC did this for their Batman 75 celebration, which you would think would be even more of a slam dunk, sales-wise, than Superman. Let's hope I'm wrong, and that DC does digests for Wonder Woman 75 next year!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Superman: The Man of Steel - 2013

DC released two digest-sized Superman collections to tie in with their "Superman at 75" celebration, with little to no pre-release hype. I didn't even know they existed until Nuclear Sub Kyle Benning pointed them out to me after we did a digest-themed episode of The Fire and Water Podcast.

Squarebound with cardstock covers, these books were cover priced $9.99 which is a bit much, nevertheless they make for a handsome package. Superman: The Man of Steel: Believe reprints stories from:

Action Comics #s 0, 810
Adventures of Superman #s 1, 623
Justice League of America Special #1
Superman #185
Superman 80 Page Giant #s 1-2

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Daily Planet: June 18, 1979

Nice to see a digest get "above the fold" placement on this installment of The Daily Planet, and plugging a non-superhero book to boot! For 95 cents, you can't beat Sgt. Rock's Prize Battle Tales.

I could have just posted the digest-centric part of this page, but I love(d) these Daily Planet features so much that I couldn't help post the whole thing, Hembeck and all!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Marvel Comics Illustrated Version of Star Wars - 1977

Marvel partnered with several different paperback publishers in the 70s and 80s to issue these digest-sized collections. With Star Wars being the biggest thing around, it only made sense that they collected their movie adaptation in every format possible--big and small.

This b/w book reprints Star Wars #s 1-6 by Roy Thomas, Howard Chaykin, Steve Leialoha, and others, with an introduction by (of course) Stan Lee. May the Force be with you!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Golden Comics Digest #38 - Aug. 1974

Digest Fan Chris Franklin was kind enough to send me this book a few months ago, and who doesn't like a digest comic in the mail?

As the cover indicates, this is a reprint collection of Pink Panther and The Inspector comics, comprising 28 stories across 128 pages. Given the short nature of these stories, it must have been fairly easy to find just enough material to fill a book, whatever the page count. To that end, there are no bonus features to be found, save for some ads for other Gold Key titles.

I was never that big a fan of the Pink Panther, given his generally bland personality. but I loved The Inspector shorts, and I could hear those voices in my head as I read the comics. Thanks Chris!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Captain America Battles Baron Blood

I realize these paperback reprint editions aren't really "digest comics", but they're too nifty to ignore and besides, they're in the spirit of the alternate comic book formats that I find so charming.

This book reprints Captain America #s 250, 253, and 254, back when the book was being done by Roger Stern, John Byrne, and Josef Rubinstein, who did superb work on the title. Capped off with a cover by Bob Larkin, and you've got one great little collection.

I had distinct memories of reading the Baron Blood issues while we were on vacation in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, which was always in August. Then when these issues were discussed on an episode of Mike Bailey's Views From the Longbox podcast, I looked them up online, and saw they were released in October and November. What the?

Then I remembered that one of the newsstands in that area that I frequently haunted sold paperbacks as well, and had this book there in August, which was what I bought and devoured at the time. I found another copy on Amazon and enjoyed it all over again!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

DC Special Blue Ribbon Digest #3 Color Guide

DigestFan Jon Knutson sent me this color guide years ago, and after this blog went dark it stayed in my "to post" folder, collecting digital dust. Sorry about that, Jon!

In any case, this is a neat behind-the-scenes peek at how one of these digests were put together. In the UPC box you can see the name of longtime DC colorist Tatjana Wood--whether that's her signature or someone else indicating she did the work, I don't know. But things like these give you an idea just how much work goes into any given comic book, even a collection of reprints!

Friday, March 13, 2009

DC Digest Ad - 1972

My pal (and DigestFan) Craig Wichman sent me this awesome, rarely-seen DC ad promoting their first two digest efforts--Laurel & Hardy and Tarzan, both scheduled for 1972.

I say "scheduled", because the Laurel & Hardy book was never published. Its hard to imagine a reason why some modest little book such as this would get pulled from the schedule--especially after an ad had been put together. For pete's sake, why?

This is the kind of comicus obscurus I love finding out about, but I think its a safe bet not one single person working at DC at the time remembers why the book was pulled. Soon after, DC amended the ad to be Tarzan only, leaving it to be the only digest book the company produced for years.

Thanks Craig!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

DC Paperbacks Ad - 1977

The last of our new updates comes from DigestFan and all around good egg Craig Wichman--this ad for the line of paperbacks from Tempo Books featuring classic DC stories that were all published around 1977.

I remember seeing this ad in almost every DC book for what seemed like a year, but it was probably only a month or two.

I eventually got the JLA one and a few others, though that Super Friends puzzle has yet to be added to the collection. I need to correct that sometime.

Thanks Craig!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man Pocket Book #3 - 1979

sgThe third titanic volume of classic Spider-Man adventures, featuring an often-re-used--but still awesome--cover by Jazzy John Romita!

Stories include:
"The Grotesque Adventure of Green Goblin", "Kraven, the Hunter", "Duel with Daredevil", "The Return of the Green Goblin", "The End of Spider-Man", "Spidey Strikes Back", and "The Coming of the Scorpion", all by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

These books were printed on high-quality paper, so they hold up extremely well, considering paperbacks are never really meant to be permanent editions.

160 pages.

Friday, May 30, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man Pocket Book #2 - 1978

sgThe second edition, reprinting--in sequence--the next six issues of The Amazing Spider-Man. The comics industry's first trade paperbacks!

Stories include:
"The Return of the Vulture", "The Living Brain", "Spider-Man Tackles The Human Torch", "The Man Called Electro", "The Enforcers", "Turning Point", "Unmasked by Dr. Octopus!", and "The Menace of Mysterio!", all by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

160 pages, with a front cover by Jazzy John Romita!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Amazing Spider-Man Pocket Book #1 - 1977

sgThe first of Marvel's cool paperback line, printed by the fine folks at Pocket Books.

As I said many months ago when talking about a Hulk Pocket Book, these editions were the only comics that ever showed up at the book fairs they had at my elementary school every so often. I assume the page count and the Pocket Books logo gave these an air of respectability that a 40 cent floppy didn't have.

This book reprints the first six, groundbreaking issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, by (of course) Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, plus Amazing Fantasy #15.

160 whopping pages!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Tarzan of the Apes Story Digest Magazine - June 1970

sgLike I said yesterday, these Gold Key digests always had such beautifully painted covers, and this edition is no exception.

Most of the other Gold Key stars got lumped in to the Golden Comics Digest umbrella title, but of course Tarzan was a big enough star to earn his own digest title!

But this was not a series of reprints--no, this is a prose story book, featuring spot illustrations by the legendary Dan Spiegle.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Golden Comics Digest #31 - Aug. 1973

sgThese Gold Key digests always had such beautifully painted covers, and this edition is no exception.

Stories include:
Turok in "The World Below", "The Terrible Ones", "The Mystery of the Mountain", "The Missing Hunters", and "The Deadly Jungle."

There are other features reprinted, like Young Earth in "The Armored Ones" and "The Ice Age", and Indian Chief in "The Exile" and "Invaders from the North."

132 pages!

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Flintstones - 1972

sgThis book is the one I most excited about finding, and the main reason I put together a week of new posts.

This humble, no-frills edition of Flintstones comics came from Charlton Comics, part of a line of digests published in 1972.

But these editions were not sold on newsstands; no, they were done as educational books, and list "Xerox Education Publications" as a co-conspirator.

Even though these books are nothing special, they are nearly impossible to find, and expensive when you do (unless the particular eBay seller doesn't really know what it is they're selling).

This copy is the only one I've ever seen, so when I saw it for sale I made damn sure I got my hands on it.

It's hard even finding a list of what digests there are. Luckily, DigestFan Craig Wichman put me in touch with Michael Ambrose, Charlton Comics expert and publisher of the Charlton fanzine
Charlton Spotlight, who was able to give me the lowdown on these odd little books:

"I don't have the definitive picture on the digest books Charlton put out, just a list of what I've acquired and what I've seen.

They seem like really odd birds. All are 5.25 inches by 8 inches, softbound, color covers, black and white interiors. Most of them collect Hanna-Barbera material, though there are some exceptions. I've no idea what the "Xerox Education Publishers Book Club" was, though I suspect it was another in the long line of promotional deals that Charlton made in its long history.

Nor do I have any dope on Pendulum Press, though I suspect another promo connection there. Charlton had a paperback book division in the late 50s and early 60s (Monarch Books, lots of soft porno sleaze and militaria) and there may have been a later connection with various paperback publishers, including Pendulum.

I don't know how any of these were distributed, either. Lots of territory to be discovered here!

Here's the list:

Charlton Digest Books

Format: 5.25" x 8", 64 pp unless noted
Publisher: Xerox Education Pubs, Book Club Ed. unless noted

Barney & Betty - 1974
CB Jokes - 1977
- 1974
Doctor Graves' Magic Book
- 1977
Doctor Graves’ Haunted Puzzlers
- 1978
- 1972
The Jetsons
- 1973
Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm
- 1973
Road Runner
- 1971, Pendulum Press
Space: 1999
- [nd; late '70s] Charlton Press, Inc. on spine, 46 pp, Gray Morrow spots w/ text, 5 stories
Yogi Bear
- 1972

You'll note the few exceptions to the Xerox Book Club H-B material, the Road Runner book and the Space: 1999 book. As I say, there may be others. Maybe your blog readers can contribute to the hunt."

I hope so, Mike! Part of the reason I think these are so hard to find (besides being fairly dull, presentation-wise) is their maddeningly generic titles.

Right this second, someone on eBay might be selling the Charlton Yogi Bear digest, but do you want to wade through a couple hundred auction listings to see? No, I thought not.

But I intend to keep looking, because I'm that obsessive. And who knows? Maybe I'll discover something that will add to the diverse and peculiar history of Charlton Comics...

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!