Friday, May 18, 2018

I’m Not an Artist, But… Lost in (ALL THAT EMPTY) Space!

The success of my two recent regular features "Adventures in Comic-Boxing" and "Separated at Mirth", has prompted me to add a THIRD such feature, which I call "I’m Not an Artist, But…". 

While "Adventures in Comic-Boxing" deals with my journeys through my comics long-boxes and the delightful oddities found within - such as THIS...

...And "Separated at Mirth" is a celebration of the many similar gags and other concepts found on comic book covers and their interiors, as presented by different artists and characters - as seen HERE...

"I’m Not an Artist, But…" calls deserved attention to things that... shall we say... could have been executed better!  Or, perhaps never attempted at all.  

But, being a WRITER, I've always been reluctant to criticize the work of artists... if only because I feel they have a far more difficult job than does the writer - and he or she is FAR MORE OUT FRONT in the comic book medium than is the writer!  

Oh, it's not as if I haven't taken certain things to task, such as this absolutely dreadful four-panel sequence by artist Kay Wright from the Now-Infamous-Because-I've-Made-It-So "Bird Bothered Hero" from DONALD DUCK # 127 (1969)...

...But now such items of infamy will have their own subset feature at TIAH Blog!  As is our way around here, we will not be needlessly critical, but will "give credit - or whatever serves as its polar opposite" - as circumstances dictate.   

Let's begin, shall we... 

WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES # 574 (1992), published during (what our friend Elaine has contributed to our lexicon as) "The Disney Interregnum" between the superior issues published during what we denote as "Gladstone Series One", and the lesser issues of "Gladstone Series Two"!

Even if the figure of Donald Duck was intentionally drawn maybe a tad "small" - to indicate the vastness of the mountaintops - why is he so noticeably to the right of center?  No political jokes, please!  ...And there's far too much empty space between the figure and the title-logo as well! 

My only guess is that, while the cover is already overburdened with clutter of a non-illustrative, non-title-logo nature, there may have been still more annoying promotional hype-copy intended for the center-left (...again, no political jokes) of the cover image!  

Whatever the reason, I’m Not an Artist, But… this cover simply could have been executed better!   

As an INAUGURAL BONUS for the "I’m Not an Artist, But…" feature, here's out First Runner-Up in the category of "Poor Space Management" - IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE # 8 (2015).

Just one of the many things IDW has done right with these comics is that, aside from a roll call of us creators, there is never any CLUTTER on their Disney comic covers!  

So, why not just ENLARGE the central image of Scrooge and the Jack-in-the-Box Treasure Chest, and REDUCE that needless empty space of SAND at the cover's bottom?  I’m Not an Artist, But… such a modification seems logical - and more aesthetically pleasing to boot! 

And it's not as if the great Carl Barks didn't already "show 'em how", back in 1953! 

Not a drop of wasted space ANYWHERE!  Way to go, Unca Carl! 

Indeed, as "I’m Not an Artist, But…" progresses, I'm certain we'll see little or nothing from the likes of Carl Barks, Harvey Eisenberg, Neal Adams, or Curt Swan.  The rest of you are FAIR GAME... especially YOU, Charlton!  

WOW! Speaking of CLUTTER! 

Saturday, May 12, 2018

More Melon 2!

Here, courtesy of our friend Achille Talon, is another hilarious installment of the Franco-Belgian comic "Walter Melon" (...known as "Achille Talon" in French, hence his screen-name) by the great cartoonist Michael Greg...

...And with, as we say at IDW, "Translation and Dialogue by Achille Talon", the REAL one, not the "cartoon-one"!   CLICK TO ENLARGE any panel sequence! 

Who among us would not at least CONSIDER ACTING, if not outright doing so, as poor fried Walter has!  

Aside from Walter in his "crispy state", you've just gotta love how the mysterious button is now completely obliterated!  

Notice the title of this post is "More Melon 2".  That's because we've already enjoyed "More Melon" in THIS POST, and were introduced to the character and his world in THIS POST!  
I'm counting on Achille to make this Blogger's life easy by occasionally delivering more material for more "More Melon" posts - just as Walter is so-doing above.  We'll all enjoy 'em, and all I've got to do is sit back and supply some framing text!  

Thank you, "Achille Talon" for another installment... and thank you, Michael Greg for your wonderful creation!  

...Any resemblance between Michael Greg and comics legend Stan Lee is purely coincidental... or is it?  

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Uncle Scrooge and “The Wonderful Wishing Post”!

…Or, am *I* just “wishing I could do a wonderful post” about IDW’s landmark UNCLE SCROOGE # 34, the 70th Anniversary issue? 

This issue was late… VERY LATE, for reasons I know not why!

My Blog Post on this issue is late – but will NOT be VERY LATE, for reasons I DO know why!

Lots of unexpected things have been thrown in my direction… most of them good, I must quickly add!  But, this finds me in the position, once again, of being (…all together now) “Horrifically Busy”!  

But, unlike some o’ those other Blogs that just leave you hanging, I’m here to let you know that the post IS coming – and that, unlike UNCLE SCROOGE # 34 itself, it won’t be 4 or 5 months late!  

Meanwhile, I’m here for comments, if not for the more effort-intensive task of writing about and scanning images from the issue!  And, if the delay persists, I will let loose with one or more of the many posts I have “saved-up” for such occasions, all in the interest of keeping this Blog fresh – and hopefully giving you a reason to return regularly!  

Monday, April 30, 2018

Comics History Eerily Repeats Itself!

With cautionary comment, I present the covers of IDW's UNCLE SCROOGE # 34 and # 35!

These two issues may be forever linked in readers' minds because THEY WERE RELEASED ON THE SAME DAY -- April 11, 2018 (...or April 18, 2018, depending on your individual comic book shop)!  

The reason this is significant - beyond the notion that # 34 was to be released in late 2017 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of this historic Dell comic...

... And that # 35, by its cover illustration, was clearly intended for release somewhere in the vicinity of Valentine's Day 2018 -- is that this HAS happened before!  ...TWICE, in fact!  

Anyone with marrow-chilling memories of those very dark days of the early-mid 1980s (pre-Gladstone Series I) may recall that THESE TWO ISSUES OF UNCLE SCROOGE WERE ALSO RELEASED ON THE SAME DAY!   (193 and 194). 

As were THESE!  (198 and 199). 

During the Whitman years (1980-1984), not unlike the period of late 2017 thru April 2018, we would experience a lengthy period of NO RELEASES, and then multiples would be indiscriminately dumped upon us, with no regard for scheduling or proper spacing between issues!  

Eerily for me, the events of April 2018 have stirred those feelings!  We all know what happened after that... the Whitman line of Disney, Warner Bros., Walter Lantz, MGM, etc., licensed comics petered-out and died of neglect!  
The unceremonious end of the Dell/Gold Key/Whitman run of UNCLE SCROOGE in 1984! 

Let us hope that history does not repeat itself, because the present IDW Disney Creative Core Four of David, Jonathan, Thad, and myself are doing such great work that it would be a gosh-darned shame to see that come to an end!  

Meanwhile, enjoy these two great comics from IDW!  I certainly have!  

...And expect review posts on both of them relatively soon! 

Just remember, I do not speak for IDW, or anyone in its employ.  I speak strictly for myself as both a long-time fan and as a dialogue creator – and those opinions are strictly my own. 

...And let's everyone hope I'm wrong about this!  Okay?  

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

900 Posts!

Welcome to POST # 900 at TIAH Blog! 

Nothing to say except… THANK YOU – ALL of you – for your continued support of the things we do around here! 

In August 2018, we will have been doing this for TEN YEARS… and I see no reason why I shouldn’t try for TWENTY, or even THIRTY. 

So, keep on coming back, and I’ll keep trying to make it interesting and FUN! 


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

On Sale March 28, 2018: SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 36 from DC Comics.

My "hat" is almost always "off" to Sholly Fisch, the extremely talented writer of SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP, for his right-on characterizations of so many different guest-starring characters and putting those characters through such clever bits... 

...However, today my figurative writer's hat is not only "off", it's been put in a box, that has been locked in a safe, which has been buried on a remote island - never to be seen (or be "put back on") again!  

But, Joe... What could Mr. Fisch have possibly done that would lead to such a display of "extreme de-hatting" on your part?, you're probably asking your fidgety and curious selves by now! 

Well, gentle readers, it's simply that after teaming Scooby and the Gang with everyone from Batman, Martian Manhunter, Jonah Hex, and even Bat-Mite, to Top Cat and Yogi Bear, he's outdone himself with SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 36, by dumping them smack into the world of DC Comics "Humor Titles Past"!    

Why, greeting us on PAGE ONE alone are Jerry Lewis (cleverly renamed to fall within fair use for parody)...

...and "Massachusetts the Monster" from the "Stanley and his Monster" feature that debuted in THE FOX AND THE CROW # 95 (Cover Date: December 1965 - January 1966).  

A feature which, perhaps like "Massachusetts the Monster" itself, grew larger and larger...

...Until it progressively, and literally, squeezed The Fox and the Crow out of existence by the final issue # 108 (1968, above)!  Stanley and his Monster took over the book completely, continuing The Fox and the Crow's numbering for issues 109-112, before coming to a quiet end - save a four-issue mini-revival in 1993. 

But, that's only the surface of the Delightful DC-Depths Sholly Fisch has plumed!

In order of appearance are such sixties luminaries of laughter as:  

Angel and the Ape...
Click on all images to enlarge!

The Inferior Five - not so coincidentally, the subject of OUR LAST POST... 

I didn't read Angel and the Ape, so I don't know if Angel and the I-Five's "Dumb Bunny" were originally sisters...

But, I DO notice that, perhaps in consideration of today's more enlightened attitudes, "Dumb Bunny" is now simply referred-to as "Bunny"... Hopefully, not to be confused with this competing sixties humor comic's blonde title character. 

Stanley (temporarily without) his Monster, who the kid believes is his DOG...

...And yes, as the cast of Stanley and his Monster expanded, Stanley ALSO gave his room (and board) to Napoleon's Ghost (FOX AND CROW # 97) and a Leprechaun and Gnome (FOX AND CROW # 99, both 1966), all unbeknownst to his disbelieving parents!  

Bob Hope (here as "Rob Pope" - all together now - cleverly renamed to fall within fair use for parody)...

And here's the source of Hope/Pope's "...not seeing any monsters since HIGH SCHOOL!" Very clever, Mr. Fisch! 

The Maniaks... 

...This time without Woody Allen (insert your own joke, if you must)... 

...And finally, Sugar and Spike!  

If, by now, you haven't figured-out why my figurative writer's hat is not only "off" to Sholly Fisch, but "gone so far, perhaps never to be seen again", is that he both knew these now-obscure DC Humor characters - and HANDLED THEM SO DARNED WELL!  

Yours truly, as something of a sixties DC aficionado, as well as being known for writing good characterizations for beloved comic book characters of the Disney stable, can only stand back in awe of this particular work!  

I didn't even READ all of those DC titles, much less be able to make their characters work so perfectly!  

For instance, how wonderful is THIS BIT, referencing both Bob Oksner (artist of ANGEL AND THE APE) and Mike Sekowski (artist of THE INFERIOR FIVE), by characters of each title! 

And big props to artist Dario Brizuela, who I often feel relies too much on stock model sheets when drawing Scooby and the Gang, but who really breaks-out in his renderings of all these disparate 1960s DC characters!  

We won't go too deeply into the plot for fear of revealing spoilers, but I'll just highlight two more things, one great and one a little odd...

This wonderful sequence where Shaggy and Scooby cower and inadvertently find Stanley's Monster...
"Loud hippie person!"?  GOTTA LOVE THAT!  

...And, from the "odd side of things", what's not quite right about this page?  

Is it just me, or does that "third panel of Daphne", with its thick outline and green background coloring inconsistent with the rest of the page -- and (all together now) "stock model sheet pose" -- look as if it were taken from a DIFFERENT SOURCE and plopped-down into this page, with an added dialogue balloon?  
Perhaps there are some mysteries even those meddling kids cannot solve!  

But, even if Daphne is speaking to us from some other realm (...perhaps the late 1960s, from whence she originated, and these DC characters abounded?), SCOOBY-DOO TEAM-UP # 36 is a marvelous trip back through the largely forgotten (alas) 1960s DC Humor Period, and a superb job by all involved!

 Get a copy, and groove with it, today!