Sunday, November 27, 2011

Behind The Scenes of the "Secret History Of Marvel Comics" P1

Let's make this a weekly feature, okay? Last week, and the week before, we let you behind the scenes of putting together my latest book: a collaboration with Dr. Michael J. Vassallo entitled The Secret History Of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire that makes its debut at the San Diego Comicon in July of 2012. And everyone's been asking us "just what exactly is this book about?" What's the angle from which we are approaching "Martin Goodman's Empire?" Are we focusing on his skin/smut magazines that ran parallel to those for-kidlet superhero comics in the 1940s, 50s and 60s? (Nah, boring.) Is this going to be some academic exercise into the financial maze that was Goodman's interconnected web of companies and dummy imprints found in the indicia of all his comics? (Yawn!) What is the scope of this book and how will it truly please comic-book fans of Jack Kirby, Stan Lee, Bill Everett, Alex Schomburg, Matt Baker, Joe Maneely, and so many more (it totally will, in ways no other book ever has!), as well as fans of pulp and magazine illustrations, the sci-fi genre and L. Ron Hubbard, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and the rest of the Scientology Liberace, Elizabeth Taylor, and Jackie Gleason fans? Yes, Doc V. and me aren't known for the sacrifice bunt when we can swing for the Green Monster instead, so here's a sneak peak at the book's entry in the Fantagraphics catalog for Spring/Summer 2012 that gives a lot more on the scope of the project...but not all the details, so come back next week when we reveal the secret origin of how this book came to life in the Fortress of Sequential Art...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Putting Together The "Secret History Of Marvel Comics" P2

Last week, we published part one of our weekend dedicated to putting together the visuals for my latest book project, The Secret History Of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire, that makes its debut at the San Diego Comicon in July of 2012.

My collaborator, Michael J. Vassallo, and me not only poured over some great artwork, but some of the innards of those 1930-50s mags could evoke a great deal of hilarity. Here are some visuals of the weekend, including the few moments I saw the sunlight outside of Michael's Fortress of Sequential Art...

First Row: 1] One of Michael's prized possessions is his Secrets Behind The Comics by Stan Lee; a small 1947 publication that features Lee pontificating on how to put together comics. This is a special one because Michael has a zillion Timely creators sign the cover. Can you pick out all the names? 2] The biggest laugh came from a magazine ad for the Do-It-Yourself-At-Home dentures! "We have thousands of customers all over the country wearing teeth we made by mail at sensible prices" from National Detective Cases v1 #3 (Jul '41). 3] Wow! In just 5 months during 1941, the cost of Do-It-Yourself dentures went up $1.10 in price! 4] Best Martin Goodman pulp magazine ad ever? Are you ruptured? Need the "double Rupture-Easer"? Of course you do. 5] The book's primary focus begins in the early 1930s when Martin Goodman starts publishing pulps and ends in the 1950s. I'm holding Snafu #3, Martin Goodman's Mad Magazine rip-off, but a treasure trove of art by Bill Everett, Joe Maneely, John Severin, Russ Heath and more!

Second Row: 1] Me buried deep in Michael's basement. Can you name some of the art of his walls? (It can now be revealed - Michael's been secretly hoarding all the old Timely original art!) 2] Nellie The Dental Assistant? Even in Michael's dental practice does Martin Goodman rule the roost. 3] Remember when a few Ditko fanatics got all over UK teevee personality Jonathan Ross for the scene when he and Neil Gaiman visited Ditko's Manhattan studio and "revealed" the address on the building? Yet, Ditko the alleged "Recluse" has had his studio phn # and address published publicly for decades. 4] Times Square in November, ten years after I visited Michael for the first time in 2001 (two months after 9/11) when I visited Ditko's studio for the first time. Of course, back in 2001, there was no security guard blocking the elevator. I blame you, Jonathan!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Steve Ditko Archives v3 in November PREVIEWS

PREVIEWS is the distributor catalog for comic book stores and Mysterious Traveler: The Steve Ditko Archives v3 is in the latest issue for ordering (the Nov '11 issue). The book's entry is on page 280 in the Fantagraphics Books Inc. (the publisher) section. The ordering code is NOV11 0991 and you have until Friday November 11 to tell your local comic book store that you want them to put it on pre-order for you (you don't pay them up front, of course, but stores have to submit their Diamond order form for the books that should arrive in store in January). You can always order after this date, but this is your way of making sure it's there for you that first week when it arrives. Click HERE to read all about the volume which features over 210 pages of Steve Ditko's work from 1957 at Charlton Comics.

Ordering through Click HERE to pre-order (you won't be charged until they ship it). Join my Steve Ditko Archives Facebook Page for exclusive updates leading to the book's release!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Putting Together The "Secret History Of Marvel Comics" P1

This past weekend was dedicated to putting together the visuals for my latest book project, The Secret History Of Marvel Comics: Jack Kirby and the Moonlighting Artists at Martin Goodman’s Empire, that makes its debut at the San Diego Comicon in July of 2012.

My collaborator, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, lives in a "Fortress Of Sequential Art" and we locked ourselves inside from Friday to Sunday night scanning our little hearts out  from all the work that had been put into researching the visuals. Here's some of what we were digging into this weekend (click to enlarge the photos). These may not appear in the book but are too much fun to resist not capturing in some manner...

Okay, that's my 2010 Bill Everett bio / art book which I'm pouring over, but let your eye wandering around the outskirts of the photo. You can see our scanning set up on the desk in the (your) bottom right corner (yes, that's the Iron Man Marvel Comics Omnibus we used to flatten out the materials that were being scanned, Ditko never far from my reach). Post your comments in the Comments Section below on what else catches your eye around the room.

That's Michael to my right in the photo. Michael's written 16 introductions to the Marvel Masterworks series of books; his knowledge of the 1930s-50s Marvel Comics empire is unrivaled. In my hands is the cover to a Martin Goodman magazine, National Detective Cases ("Sex Blasts Our Hideout" emblazoned on the cover). Michael is holding National Detective Cases v1 #2 from May 1941 with the captions "...He Tried To Burn Me Alive!" and "Case Of The Unwanted Babies".

Martin Goodman put out comic books, he put out pulps, and he put out magazines, books and smaller digests as well. Michael is holding a 3-Book Western digest from 1957 that features Matt Baker artwork. I'm hiding behind an illustration from the same issue by Carl Burgos, creator of the Human Torch in Marvel Comics #1, the very first comic that Goodman published (also featuring Bill Everett's Sub-Mariner debut). Probably the best Burgos illo. I saw all weekend.

One of my favourite Golden Age artists from my teenager years (in the 1980s) was Syd Shores. He took over as artist from Jack Kirby on Captain America Comics back in the early 1940s, and had a rendition of Sub-Mariner that I loved. Here, buried in a Martin Goodman magazine is Shores doing an illustration for the story, Devil's Weed. Yes, that's Satan rolling a doobie. Shores' brilliance really shines through on this material.

Michael's having fun with a Martin Goodman pulp entitled The Angel Detective from 1941 in his right hand, and a copy of the magazine, Amazing Detective Cases from 1942. The cover is by illustration artist Caldwell Higgins (who never did do any work for Goodman's line of comic books). Hmmm...Michael sure seems to be surrounded by a whole bunch of interesting artwork. Post your identifications of each to our Comments Section below.

We'll back for Part Two of our adventures in putting together our Secret History Of Marvel Comics book, including a look at some of the hilarious material to be found in the Martin Goodman books that was probably normal for the 1940s but is stunning when taken out of context.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Join our "Secret History Of Marvel Comics" Facebook Page

Want to see how a book is constructed from scratch? Join our Secret History Of Marvel Comics Facebook Page where me and my collaborator, Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, are posting pictures and other random miscellanea about our weekend of scanning in the "Fortress of Sequential Art" somewhere in upstate New York (Michael Shannon, you shalt not find us!).

Also, follow me on Twitter for more exclusive updates and missives as we progress to the book's release date in July 2012 at the San Diego Comicon.Want a peak at what's under that cover? Keep your eyes on our Facebook page!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

More on "The Secret History Of Marvel Comics"

On Tuesday, we revealed my next book project, The Secret History Of Marvel Comics - a collaboration with Dr. Michael J. Vassallo, the world's foremost expert on the empire of former Marvel Comics owner Martin Goodman. "Doc V", as he is affectionately known in comic-book fandom, is the author of 16 different introductions to the Marvel Masterworks series.

Michael's primary area of interest started as an art-spotter and collector of 1950s Marvel Comics (often referred to as "Atlas Comics", Michael now owns an almost complete collection of that era) before expanding his scope to include 1940s Marvel (known then as "Timely Comics").

Michael then took his interest in Martin Goodman's empire to a whole new level when he began his pursuit of Goodman's other publishing endeavors. These included Goodman's pulps, magazines, and digests; Michael's interests primarily residing in the material from the 1930s to the 1950s.

When I visited Michael's fortress of sequential art in upstate New York in August of 2010, he showed me how the collection was building, and the goldmine that was found inside, and a light blub went off in my head - "The Secret History Of Marvel Comics". Realizing the same, Fantagraphics bought in quickly, and the world will get to see the results when the book debuts at the San Diego Comicon 2012! More details tomorrow!