Monday, October 20, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 8

Cover for Space Family Robinson (Western, 1962 series) #37

SPACE FAMILY ROBINSON #37 from October, 1973. This science fiction series began in December, 1962 and lasted 49 issues before ending in October 1976. The "Lost in Space" tag line was added to the title when the Irwin Allen television series of the same name debuted on CBS TV in 1965. The comic book and the TV show had one main similarity: a family named Robinson that was lost in space. But the "lost" Space Station One in the comics was radically different than the Jupiter 2 on television and in the comics, there were only four Robinsons (dad, mom, son & daughter) and none of the supporting cast found on television. Gotta admit I much preferred the comic book version with brilliant, bold painted covers like this one and the always superlative interior artwork by the great Dan Spiegle over the campy, juvenile and just plain stupid television show.

This is one of several nice Gold Key comics that I bought for five bucks apiece from one dealer at the recent Wizard World Austin Comic Con. Great comics, great prices. Can't beat that.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 7 OR THE ADVENTURE OF THE HIDDEN COMIC BOOK

Cover for Four Color (Dell, 1942 series) #1245

Pictured above is DELL FOUR COLOR COMICS #1245 featuring THE NEW ADVENTURES OF SHERLOCK HOLMES. This issue was published in late 1961 and it's the second appearance of the durable sleuth in the long running Four Color series. I scored this beauty at the recent Wizard World Austin Comic Con but finding it took some time and effort. Allow me elucidate Watson.

I stopped at one of the few comic book dealer booths I could find at the convention. There was a nice, friendly guy behind the table and behind him was a wall display of comics. Along the bottom row were some Dell and Gold Key comics that caught my eye. I couldn't get to them though because the entrance to the interior of the booth was blocked by a table full of long boxes. I asked the guy if I could please see the books that had caught my eye and he politely complied.

The books I examined were an issue of Gold Key's HANNA-BARBERA SUPER TV HEROES, a Gold Key issue of SUPERCAR and a Dell issue of THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW. HB SUPER TV HEROES had a price tag of $75.00, too rich for my blood. SUPERCAR had a price tag of $75.00 also. Again, a nice looking book and one I'd certainly like to have but not at that price. THE ANDY GRIFFITH SHOW issue was in incredibly rough shape yet the dealer wanted the same $75.00 for it that he was asking for the other two books. Three books, three different conditions, same price each. Not for me.

Still, I didn't want to give up. I figured if this guy had these comics on display, he might have some other lower priced goodies in stock so I asked him if he had any other Dell and Gold Key comics. He did but he first had to disappear under his table, move several other boxes of comics and resurface with a short box in his hands. He proceeded to pull out and hand to me no more than about a dozen Dell and Gold Key comics. He said they were all he'd brought to the show, that he had many more back at his shop and that his shop has a website where those books are posted for sale. All well and good but I wanted to buy something in the here and now. After all, that's what I'd come to Comic Con to do: buy comic books.

I finally settled on the comic book pictured above. I paid $25.00 for it. It's in very nice shape, I'd never seen it before and as Frank and Mike on AMERICAN PICKERS always say, "the time to buy something you've never seen is when you see it." Truer words have rarely been spoken.

But I would have bought it much sooner if it had been on display instead of hidden in a box under a table where only the dealer could get at it. Lesson learned, Watson? When you don't see what you're looking for at first glance, it never hurts to ask. Sometimes you''ll find a real gem.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

"TRACK 'EM FIND 'EM KILL 'EM"


I scored a used Blu Ray copy of THE EXPENDABLES 2 (2012) for four bucks at a thrift store the other day. I figured I'd take a chance on this one at that price.

For the record, this is the only EXPENDABLES film I've seen. I have not seen EXPENDABLES 1 and EXPENDABLES 3 and I doubt I will. I think one iteration of this franchise is enough for me. However, I still think it would be cool if, following the Kelly Greene/Frank Campbell rule of third sequels that EXPENDABLES 3 be entitled EXPENDABLES WALK AMONG US. Just saying.

You're probably aware of the basic premise of this series. Over-the-hill action stars from the '80s are back in business as a team of professional mercenaries. There are some new faces mixed in with the old and that's where I have a bit of a problem. These guys I know: Sylvester Stallone, Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Chuck Norris, Jean Claude Van Damme, Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger. These guys I don't: Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Liam Hemsworth, Scott Adkins, Yu Nan (the first female member of the team).

The film starts with a bang with an extended action sequence that's like the opening of a James Bond film on steroids. The action just goes on and on. The Expendables attack the fortress of an Asian warlord in an attempt to free a hostage and in the process, pretty much kill everything that moves. The whole thing plays out like an issue of SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS turned up to 11. Their mission completed, Jet Li disappears from the team (and the rest of the film).

There follows some relatively quiet, character development scenes which are soon interrupted by Bruce Willis as a shady government operative who sends Stallone (with a droopy face that rivals Robert Mitchum's mug) and his boys (along with Yu Nan) on a dangerous mission.

An Expendable gets killed early during the mission which makes it personal for these meat heads. Several action set pieces ensue with a terrific tongue-in-cheek, self-referential appearance by Chuck Norris in one sequence. Things come to a bullet strewn climax with a shoot out in a Russian airport (where did that come from?) and a final fight to the death between puffy lipped Stallone and dead eyed Van Damme.

THE EXPENDABLES is a fun, fast paced, action packed movie that never takes itself seriously and neither should you. There's enough sly wink-wink nod-nods to the past screen personas of the major actors to make a fan of '80s action films smile and chuckle. Thousands of rounds of ammunition are expended in gun battles, there's some nifty martial arts fight scenes and things blow up real good. What more could you want?

Friday, October 10, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 6


Pictured here is Marvel Masterworks Atlas Era Heroes Volume 3. It's a beautiful hardcover volume that reprints SUB-MARINER #33-42 from 1954-1955.  The artwork on the Sub-Mariner stories is by the legendary Bill Everett (creator of Prince Namor), while Dick Ayers provides the art on a handful of Human Torch stories. All this and a fact filled introduction by Roy Thomas.

These issues were published by Atlas Comics (formerly Timely, later Marvel) in the mid-1950s during the oh-so-brief revival of the company's big three super-hero characters: The Human Torch, Captain America and Sub-Mariner. None of the books starring these characters caught on with the reading public, although the Sub-Mariner series lasted longer than titles featuring the Torch and Cap.

This was the second book I bought from the dealer selling trade paperbacks at half price at the recent Wizard World Austin Comic Con. Originally published in 2008 with a cover price of $60.00, this baby was a steal at half that price. The dust jacket is slightly shop worn but otherwise in entirely acceptable condition for my eyes.

I didn't much care for Bill Everett's artwork when I was a kid. I didn't consider him a bad artist, just someone who didn't draw like Jack Kirby (my all-time favorite comic book artist). You couldn't find two more different and distinctive styles of comic book art than that of Kirby and Everett. Everett 's work had a unique, highly stylized look to it that I now regard as extremely well done and quite attractive to look at. As creator of Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, Everett can rightly be called the definitive Subby artist, although I have a slight preference for the work of Gene Colan and John Buscema on the character. Hey, those were the guys drawing the strip when I first started reading it and their versions of the character have always stuck in my mind as pretty darn good.

Still, a big hardcover book full of Bill Everett Sub-Mariner stories (few of which were ever reprinted) is a down right treasure to be enjoyed for many hours to come.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 5

Cover for Mighty Samson (Western, 1964 series) #18

Funny, I just posted an entry here not long ago about the Gold Key comic book series MIGHTY SAMSON and look what I found at Wizard World Austin Comic Con last week! This is issue #18 from May, 1969. Great stuff from a great dealer who gave me a heck of a deal on this comic along with the other two Gold Key comics I've already posted here (LAND OF THE GIANTS and M.A.R.S. PATROL: TOTAL WAR) and a couple more comics I've yet to blog about. Stay tuned! 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 4


Just so you know, I didn't spend all of my money at Wizard World on Gold Key comics (a lot of it, though, certainly). Case in point, the beauty pictured above.

This handsome hardcover reprints MEN'S ADVENTURES #27-28, CAPTAIN AMERICA #76-78 and HUMAN TORCH #36-38. All of these comics were published by Atlas Comics (later to become Marvel Comics) in 1954 during the very short lived revival of the big three Timely Comics Golden Age super-heroes: Captain America, Sub-Mariner and The Human Torch. The stories feature artwork by such masters as John Romita, Dick Ayers and Bill Everett. There's a nice introduction by Roy Thomas (my all-time favorite comic book writer), a gent who knows a thing or two about golden age comics.

This massive hardcover volume was originally published in 2008 with a retail price point of a whopping $59.99. I scored it for half of that cost from a dealer who had several boxes full of hardcover and trade paperback graphic novels and reprint collections all at half price. I'll post the other book I got from him soon.

Half price books like this one at a con are always a great deal but this guy's stock had been pretty seriously picked over. There were some books that I probably would have purchased if they'd been in better shape. We're talking broken spines and almost loose page signatures. The book pictured here has only moderate wear and the condition is entirely acceptable to me. But bad condition books, even at half price, are still bad condition books and not, in my opinion, a bargain.

Still, there's hours of reading fun to be had in this baby for a very reasonable price.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

WIZARD WORLD AUSTIN COMIC CON TREASURES 3

Cover for M.A.R.S. Patrol Total War (Western, 1966 series) #10

I found a nice copy of M.A.R.S. PATROL: TOTAL WAR #10 (Gold Key comics, August 1969) at Wizard World on Friday. The cover art on this final issue is by George Wilson and I think it's great!

The series began in 1965 and was originally entitled TOTAL WAR. This lasted for two issues (with terrific art by Wally Wood) before the title was changed to M.A.R.S. PATROL: TOTAL WAR for the next eight issues. M.A.R.S. by the way, stood for Marine, Attack, Rescue and Service and each letter in that acronym corresponded to one of the four primary color-coded (red, blue, yellow and green) fighting men that starred in each issue. The four men were a racially diverse team with one member an African American, and another an Asian American. The men fought against the purple clad soldiers of an enemy force that had invaded North America.

M.A.R.S. PATROL offered realistic combat action with a futuristic science fiction flair. I was nine-years-old when I bought that first issue of TOTAL WAR. I flat out loved this series from the get go and when I found this beauty at a fair price at the convention, I had to have it. Great stuff!