Monday, November 11, 2013

Impossible Tales

My relationship to comic books got really strange in 2013. I have developed an interest in the last dark corners of the 70s, and have maintained my interest in Ditko and Kirby. 

Ditko in particular has had a banner year. Two successful Kickstarters, and an absurd number of reprints of work that purports to be public domain, as well as a couple I know him to get paid reprint rights on. 

Ditko Ate-teen, a reprint of Ditko's Package, and Lazlo's Hammer were produced via Kickstarter and self publishing. 

IDW and Craig Yoe came out with the (allegedly) public domain Konga and Gorgo books. Yoe printed links and references to how to get Ditko's new works in Konga. 

Dark Horse packaged a lovely volume of the complete Warren Ditko works. He apparently did get reprint rates on that one. 

Rounding out the year was Ditko Archives volume 4 assembled by Blake Bell through Fantagraphics. This series runs chronologically, capturing all of the non-Marvel work by Ditko. It just hit 1958, and is crossing over with the Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish Masterworks.  No money to Ditko, but Bell plugged Ditko's new works in this one. 

In the realm of back issues, I focused on 3 projects. Black and white magazines from Marvel/Warren, Doctor Strange, and movie adaptations from the 70s and early 80s. 

I was able to complete runs of Rampaging Hulk, Rook, Howard the Duck, and get a good start on Epic Illustrated and 1984/1994. I also got the first 11 Marvel Graphic Novels, most of the Vampirella Archives,  and a few other random magazines I remembered from the 70s. 

This included the second issue of Star Warp, a trashy movie magazine from the infamous Myron Fass. It contained images from Dawn of the Dead which held me in their thrall for 20 years until I finally viewed the film in 1998. I also picked up a single issue from his Eerie horror line which included a vivid black and white decapitation that haunted me since first seeing it in Melton Food Mart on Frankfort Avenue in late 70s Louisville. Googling "eerie fass decapitation" in Images will bring you the panel in all its absurdly grotesque glory. 

My final project for the year was to pick up a range of Marvel film adaptations from Star Wars to Howard the Duck. The project grew and evolved a bit, and seems to have turned into a writing project. I am looking to document the history of comics adaptations of movies starting with Dr. No and ending with Howard the Duck. The writing is coming along on this, and it's still being shaped. The work has spilled out at the edges and may need to be trimmed back.

I want to touch on Dr. No, as it was the first real example of the genre. From there, things start to pick up with Disney's self-adaptive works from gold key. Then Marvel starts to dabble with films that already had an opportunity to build a following, like 2001. Next they explored concurrent releases with Start Wars, Logan's Run and others. 

To wrap up the year, I grabbed a low priced volume of Marvel Masterworks: Ant-Man vol 1 and the Walt Disney Showcase: Boatniks comic. It felt like reaching the end of comics. Fringe, low quality pulp ephemera. 

That's kind of been the theme for the year. Approaching comics from the perspective of what was mass trash culture in the 70s, buying up the things that were never considered collectable. Weird mass distributed non-super-hero work. The insane and beautiful attempts at adult work, personal work wrapped in weird formats, and proto graphic novels disguised as a movie magazine. 

All of this reflection bubbles up as the clock runs out ion age 42. Only 30 minutes left in this year. It's been a good one, and really has resulted in some very strange self-reflection. The metaphoric touchstones are all about reviewing 1975-1982. The comic books show that, as does the interest in movies from that window. 

Wanting to reconstruct a version of the late 70s through media consumption has been a constant process with lots of different versions over the last 8 years for me. The next step in this process may be to move away from the Millennium City to a more established, worn urban area. I have lived in Austin for 18 years, and feel like it is time to grow up and get out, just like any 18 year old does. 

OK. It's time to go be 43. Thanks for listening.