Monday, June 18, 2007

a short break

now, i know you all enjoy your regular daily fix of the junkyard's notes and miscellanium... so don't take it too hard when i say i'll be taking a short break in my communiques... only a couple of weeks or so... lots of things to take care of... places to travel to... scenarios to play out... games to fix... crimes to conduct... and of course, trinkets to arrange in the junkyard... a bit of dusting and cleaning... a bit of dried blood in the horror section... some ice cream stains in the hart amos wing... a few stray syllables in the krazy korner... by all means keep the comments coming... whether it's online or offline... i promise to attend to all of them eventually... and see you all back here around the first week of july... until then... to the brave and the bold... as above, so below...

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Colossal Comic # 24: Before The Brady Bunch and Watchmen...

...another box layout of sorts by Hart Amos…

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Century The 100 Page Comic Monthly #2

Another Hart Amos beauty - just for the sheer heck of it!

Friday, June 15, 2007

Colossal Comic # 8: ...and the Hart Amos reproductions just keep on comin'...

The cover for Colossal Comic #8 is another Hart Amos adaptation, this time from World’s Finest Comics #41, July-August 1949 (see comparison on the AusReprints site). The figures have been rearranged slightly, and Batman is kneeling on one knee rather than just bending forward, but it is basically the same image.

It supports the working theory that the Amos template was indebted to the World’s Finest Comics model. To my eye the Superman face looks like Amos even though the bodies do not look like his regular soft and puffy bodies. It appears he followed the source material quite closely even as he adapted it.

Again it begs the question: why adapt the cover image rather than use the original? In the discussion on Century The 100 Page Comic Monthly #9 it was suggested that the colouring may have been the reason. I can certainly see that being the case for Century #9, but it doesn’t apply in the case of Colossal #8 and World’s Finest Comics #41.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Hundred Comic Monthly # 16: Another Hart Amos Reproduction

I’ve presented The Hundred Comic Monthly #16 before, but I wish to bring it up again briefly in the context of recent discussion on the Hart Amos covers.

This cover is a bit of an anomaly in the Amos repertoire for K. G. Murray. For one thing the box layout is atypical of Amos. As discussed previously, Amos typically contrived a montage or group scene for the anthologies. There are a couple of occasions in which Amos employed the box format, for example Giant Superman Album #1 and Colossal Comic #24, but each of these is an exceptional case.

The other notable fact about this cover is that, similarly to “The Girl in the Bottle”, it’s an instance of Amos reproducing an existing image for the lead feature, in this case for “The Eagle Who Caged People!” from Wonder Woman #91, July 1957. I suspect this may have been originally intended as the sole image for this issue’s cover, and it was later decided to opt for an ‘all-star’ anthology-type cover, hence its prominence in the final layout. This scenario would also explain why it is the only ‘content-‘ or ‘plot-based’ image on the cover.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Colossal Comic # 21

Colossal Comic #21, April 1962
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Radioactive Boy
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #17, December 1956)

The Man Who Was Three Men
Sid Gerson/Mort Drucker/Frank Giacoia

Earth's Unlucky Day!
John Broome/Sy Barry
(Strange Adventures #40, January 1954)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Rainbow Batman
Edmond Hamilton/Sheldon Moldoff/Stan Kaye
(Detective Comics #241, March 1957)

The Green Arrow: The Make-Believe Archer
George Papp
(Adventure Comics #182, November 1952)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Batman's Secret Helper
Dick Sprang/Stan Kaye
(Batman #106, March 1957)

The Elephant Who Saved The Earth!
Sid Gerson/Gil Kane/Bernard Sachs
(Strange Adventures #43, April 1954)

Superman: Superman of Skid Row!
Al Plastino
(Superman #89, May 1954)

The Traffic Cop of Space!
Jack Miller/Howard Sherman
(Strange Adventures #43, April 1954)

Collector's Item!
Jack Miller/Mort Drucker/Joe Giella
(Strange Adventures #28, January 1953)

Captain Comet: The Phantom Prize Fighter!
John Broome/Murphy Anderson
(Strange Adventures #43, April 1954)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: Clark Kent, Prisoner!
John Sikela
(Superboy #37, December 1954)

Superman: The Man Who Sped Up Superman!
Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Action Comics #192, May 1954)

Captain Comet: The Planet of Ancient Children!
John Broome/Murphy Anderson
(Strange Adventures #42, March 1954)

The Interplanetary Counterfeiters
Otto Binder/Mort Drucker/Bernard Sachs
(Strange Adventures #45, June 1954)

The Man Who Couldn't Die
Emil Gershwin
(Adventures into the Unknown #35, September 1952, TBC)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Terror at Mystery Castle
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #246, August 1957)
Note: originally titled Murder At Mystery Castle

Superboy: The Greatest Show on Earth
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Creig Flessel
(Adventure Comics #220, January 1956)

From Eternity to Here!
Sid Gerson/Gil Kane/Joe Giella
(Strange Adventures #40, January 1954)

Last Day on Earth!
John Broome/Sy Barry
(Strange Adventures #41, February 1954)

The Plant That Plotted Murder!
John Broome/Murphy Anderson
(Strange Adventures #44, May 1954)

Plus the following fillers: Moolah The Mystic, Peg, Little Pete, Casey the Cop

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Colossal Comic # 25

Colossal Comic #25, May 1963
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superman and Batman and Robin: The Super-Newspaper of Gotham City
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(World's Finest Comics #80, January-February 1956)

Superman: Clark Kent Gaolbird!
Al Plastino
(Superman #104, March 1956)
Note: Originally titled "Clark Kent, Jailbird"

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Return of Mr. Future
Arnold Drake/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(Batman #98, March 1956)

Human Time Capsules
John Broome/Carmine Infantino/Sy Barry
(Strange Adventures #31, April 1953)

Johnny Quick and his Magic Formula: Johnny Quick Makes History!
Otto Binder/ Charles Sultan
(Adventure Comics #137, February 1949)

The Human Phantom!
Otto Binder/Gil Kane/Joe Giella
(Strange Adventures #48, September 1954)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: A Visit from Superman's Pal
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superboy #55, March 1957)

Danger Trail (Special Spy Story): Riddle of the Portuguese Cat!
Dave Wood/Carmine Infantino/Howard Sherman
(World's Finest Comics #68, January-February 1954)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Living Toys!
Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #193, June 1954)

Captain Comet: The Revolt of the Thinking Machine!
John Broome/Sy Barry/Julius Schwartz
(Strange Adventures #49, October 1954)

Superman: The Superman of Yesterday
Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #103, February 1956)

I Flew A Flying Saucer!
Otto Binder/Carmine Infantino/Bernard Sachs
(Strange Adventures #46, July 1954)

The Eye-Dropper World
Otto Binder/Murphy Anderson/Joe Giella
(Strange Adventures #42, March 1954)

Johnny Quick and his Magic Formula: Thunderbolts on Mount Olympus!
(Adventure Comics #193, October 1953)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: 1,001 Rides With Superboy
Otto Binder/John Sikela
(Adventure Comics #234, March 1957)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Living Batplane!
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(Batman #91, April 1955)

Danger Trail (Special Spy Story): The Seven Hills of Rome
Dave Wood/Carmine Infantino/Howard Sherman
(World's Finest Comics #69, March-April 1954)

Superman and Batman and Robin: The True History of Superman and Batman
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Stan Kaye
(World's Finest Comics #81, March-April 1956)

Johnny Quick and his Magic Formula: Mayhem in the Meal-O-Mat!
Don Cameron/Mort Meskin/George Roussos
(Adventure Comics #127, April 1948)

And some Henry Boltinoff fillers: Moolah the Mystic, Lem 'n' Lime, Professor Eureka, and Buck Skinner

Monday, June 11, 2007

Colossal Comic # 32

Colossal Comic #32, May 1965
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superman and Batman and Robin: The Boy From Outer Space!
Edmond Hamilton/Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(World’s Finest Comics #92, January-February 1958)

Space Cabby: Interplanetary Speedway!
Otto Binder/Gil Kane/Bernard Sachs
(Mystery In Space #40, October-November 1957)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Wildest Weather in the World
John Sikela
(Superboy #62, January 1958)

The Dual-Identity World!
Otto Binder/Sid Greene/Joe Giella
(Mystery In Space #42, February-March 1958)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Fox, The Shark, and the Vulture
Dave Wood/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #253, March 1958)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Holidays of Tomorrow!
Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #184, September 1953)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Jimmy Olsen, The Bearded Boy
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #23, September 1957)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Rebel Super-Dog
Otto Binder/John Sikela
(Superboy #64, April 1958)

Johnny Quick and his Magic Formula: The Human Bird!
Ralph Mayo
(Adventure Comics #200, May 1954)

The Thing in the Telescope
Mort Meskin/George Roussos
(House of Mystery #60, March 1957)

Superman and Batman and Robin: The Origin of the Superman-Batman Team
Edmond Hamilton/Jack Schiff/Dick Sprang/Stan Kaye
(World's Finest Comics #94, May-June 1958)

Master of Thrills
Sheldon Moldoff
(House of Mystery #60, March 1957)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: Clark Kent, Cub Reporter
Otto Binder/John Sikela
(Superboy #63, March 1958)

The Second Man in the Moon
Mort Meskin/George Roussos
(House of Mystery #59, February 1957)

Superman: The Midget Superman
Otto Binder/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #115, August 1957)

I Battled the Creatures of Mount Olympus
Ruben Moreira
(House of Mystery #59, February 1957)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Girl Who Trapped Superboy
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Stan Kaye
(Adventure Comics #246, March 1958)

Trail of the Glowing Atoms!
Otto Binder/Gil Kane/Joe Giella
(Mystery In Space #38, June-July 1957)

Superman: The Non-Super Superman
Otto Binder/Ruben Moreira/Al Plastino
(Superman #111, February 1957)

The Prisoner on Canvas
Nick Cardy
(House of Mystery #60, March 1957)

Plus fillers: Varsity Vic, Warden Willis, Little Pete

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Colossal Comic # 35

Colossal Comic 35, November 1965
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Blind Boy of Steel!
Otto Binder/George Papp/Mort Weisinger
(Adventure Comics #259, April 1959)

The Tomb of Ramfis
John Prentice
(House of Mystery #59, February 1957)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero
Dave Wood/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #121, February 1959)

The Secret of the Space Souvenirs
Otto Binder/Al Plastino
(Superman #122, July 1958)

The Girl in the Iron Mask
Mort Meskin/George Roussos/
(House of Mystery #66, May-June 1964)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Day Superboy Was a Coward
Leo Dorfman/George Papp
(Superboy #72, April 1959)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Mad Hatter of Metropolis
Bill Finger/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #31, September 1958)

I Was Tried by the Jury of Villains
Ruben Moreira
(My Greatest Adventure #15, May-June 1957)

The Green Arrow: Crimes Under Glass
Robert Bernstein/Jack Kirby/Roz Kirby
(World's Finest Comics 99, February 1959)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Secret of Batman Island!
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #119, October 1958)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: Krypto, the Human Superdog
Otto Binder/John Sikela/Mort Weisinger
(Superboy #71, March 1959)

I Had the Midas Touch of Gold
Leonard Starr
(My Greatest Adventure #14, March-April 1957)

The Green Arrow: The Unmasked Archers!
France Herron/Jack Kirby/Roz Kirby
(World's Finest Comics #98, December 1958)

Superman: The Great Superman Swindle
Alvin Schwartz/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #121, May 1958)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Airborne Batman
Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris/Jack Schiff
(Batman #120, December 1958)

The Legend of the Golden Lion
George Roussos
(House of Mystery #67, October 1957)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Body in the Bat-Cave
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #121, February 1959)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Spendthrift and the Miser
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #28, April 1958)

The Human Time Capsule
Mort Meskin
(House of Mystery #64, July 1957)

Superman: The Super-Sword
Jerry Coleman/Al Plastino
(Superman #124, September 1958)

Plus the following fillers: Professor Eureka, Little Brother, Moolah the Mystic

Note: This issue reprints the three main features of the Australian edition of My Greatest Adventure #33.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

Colossal Comic # 36

Colossal Comic #36, February 1966
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Return of Jor-El and Lara/The Voyage To New Krypton!/The Orphan of Steel!
Otto Binder/John Sikela
(Superboy #74, July 1959)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Invisible Batman
Bill Woolfolk/Lew Schwartz/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #199, September 1953)

We Discovered the Edge of the World
Nick Cardy
(My Greatest Adventure #18, November-December 1957)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Super Nose for News
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #32, October 1958)

Curious Names of Western Mines
Morris Waldinger
(House of Secrets #13, October 1958)

I Died A Thousand Times
Jack Kirby
(My Greatest Adventure #16, July-August 1957)

Green Arrow: The Curse of the Wizard's Arrow!
Lee Elias
(Adventure Comics #261, June 1959)

Superman: Jimmy Hits the Jackpot
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman #121, May 1958)

Three Fearful Wishes
Jim McArdle
(House of Mystery #65, August 1957)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Mystery Seeds from Space
Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #124, June 1959)

Dream Girl
Bob Brown
(House of Mystery #69, December 1957)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Son of Superman
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #30, August 1958)

The Menace of the Maze
Mort Meskin/George Roussos
(House of Mystery #70, January 1958)

Superman: Superman's New Power!
Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #125, November 1958)

Green Arrow: The Green Arrow's Mystery Pupil
Lee Elias
(Adventure Comics #259, April 1959)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Secret of the Everglades
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #123, April 1959)

The Microscopic Man
Ruben Moreira
(House of Mystery #68, November 1957)

Superman: The Lady and the Lion
Otto Binder/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Action Comics #243, August 1958)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Fugitive Batman
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Stan Kaye
(Batman #123, April 1959)

Plus a number of fillers: Professor Eureka, Dr. Floogle, Lefty Looie, Warden Willis, Peter Puptent Explorer, Moolah the Mystic, Science says your Wrong if you Believe That....

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Colossal Earth-Amos

When I was in Grade 2 the teacher gave us an exercise. We were each given a picture, cut out at random from a magazine, and we were to write a story involving the picture – the scene, the characters, a plot. I remember that only one kid in the class managed the exercise correctly. The rest of us made the mistake of simply describing the picture we were given.

I’m really glad that the picture I was given was not the cover to Colossal Comic #13. I think that if I was charged with explaining why Superman is flying from Australia to greet Batman on the moon while Robin is distracted with chasing after something elusive in the foreground – without any breathing apparatus at all! - my 8-year-old brain would simply have short circuited and gone into meltdown.

Or maybe not. Maybe it’s just perfect for an 8-year-old brain. So be it. I’m happy to leave it at that. And relieved I’m not being challenged to explain it today, let alone tie it into any continuity.

Even on Earth-Amos.

PS image courtesy of AusReprints.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

The 'Non-Super' Hart Amos

This is another Hart Amos cover, but unlike his typically generic 'super' Century Comic covers this one is based on the lead story, “The Girl in the Bottle”. The artist for the original story is Ruben Moreira, but I have not identified the original source for this story.

I’m curious to know whether Amos based his cover on the original – that is, assuming there is an original cover, as this story may have been a back-up feature. The splash page may have provided a loose guide for it insofar as it features a bottle in the foreground and two people in a boat in the background, but it’s only a token similarity – the splash page has a man in the bottle, the image is reversed so the bottle is to the left of the shot, and the boat and figures bear no resemblance to the Amos picture.

The Junkyard's UK correspondent has identified "The Girl in the Bottle" as the cover story in Tales of the Unexpected #6, October 1956. The cover is also by Ruben Moreira, and it is clearly the model for Amos' rendition. As to why the Tales of the Unexpected cover was redrawn rather than reprinted...?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Colossal Comic # 29: The Amos 'Ghosts'

Hart Amos was the pre-eminent cover artist on the Colossal Comic series, but he did not illustrate each and every issue. Indeed, when we think of the Amos Colossal Comic covers, we’re really thinking of the first 40-odd issues - the complexion of the last dozen is altered significantly, and I’ll address these latter issues in another blog.

In the first 41 issues there are instances in which the Amos template has been adhered to but the figures do not look like Amos at all, and Colossal Comic #29 is one such example.

It’s unlikely that Amos had ghosts for his Colossal Comics covers in the sense in which we traditionally think of ghosts in the comics industry (and just what is the collective noun for, say, Bob Kane’s ghosts – A Spectre? A Fear? Maybe a Fraid…?) but I think it’s fair to say, based on the evidence of this cover and others such as Colossal Comic #27 and #33 that the established Amos style was consciously mimicked.

I have no idea who these ‘ghosts’ are, and that seems utterly appropriate in the circumstances, as frustrating as it may be to my inner ghostbuster.

Colossal Comic #29, circa May 1964

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: One Ounce of Doom
Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Detective Comics #254, April 1958)

Superman: Lois Lane, Policewoman!
Bill Finger/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #84, September-October 1953)

The Man Marooned on Earth
Ruben Moreira
(House of Mystery #48, March 1956)

Green Arrow: The Rocket Raiders
George Papp
(World's Finest Comics #94, May-June 1958)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Caveman at Large
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #102, September 1956)

Superman: The Return of Planet Krypton!
William Woolfolk/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Action Comics #182, July 1953)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Super Outlaw of Smallville
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Stan Kaye
(Adventure Comics #241, October 1957)

Space Cabby: The Anti-Gravity Man!
Otto Binder/Gil Kane/Bernard Sachs
(Mystery in Space #41, December 1957)

Aquaman: The Floating Doom
Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #238, July 1957)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Academy Awards of Space
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #231, August 1957)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: Superman's Kid Brother
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #19, March 1957)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Girl Planeteer
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #227, April 1957)

Superman: The Thing from 40,000 A.D.!
Bill Finger/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Superman #87, February 1954)

The House of 100 Dreams
(Original unidentified – may have been reprinted in a previous Australian edition of My Greatest Adventure or Strange Adventures)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Game of Kriss-Kross Krypton
Otto Binder/John Sikela
(Superboy #60, October 1957)

Aquaman: The Show-Off of the Sea
Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #235, April 1957)

Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Super-Brain of Jimmy Olsen
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #22, August 1957)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Gaucho of Smallville!
John Sikela
(Superboy #42, July 1955)

Superman: Superman in Superman Land
Bill Finger/Wayne Boring/Stan Kaye
(Action Comics #210, November 1955)

Plus quite a rash of fillers: Peter Puptent, General Little, Jerry the Jitterbug, Professor Eureka, 2 x Casey the Cop, Lucky, and 2 x Moolah the Mystic.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Colossal Comic # 20: The Amos Superman Style

I think it’s fair to say the Hart Amos Superman was scarcely a power fantasy. For the most part he was a bulky, soft-edged, pudgy figure – I think of him as an idiosyncratic synthesis of elements found in Wayne Boring, Kurt Schaffenberger and Al Plastino. He resembled the leaner ‘modern’ Curt Swan Superman the least of all the Weisinger-era Superman artists. And of course this Superman was no stranger to a bit of light-hearted buffoonery. It's as if Amos only caught him at leisure, on holidays.

Amos was adept at a more ‘mature adventure’ style as evidenced by his Devil Doone work, but on the basis of his Colossal-style covers, I believe he would have been perfectly suited to rendering C.C. Beck’s Captain Marvel. DC has long struggled to integrate Captain Marvel into the DCU, and it never quite gels. However, he would be right at home on these covers!

To the contents:

Colossal Comic #20, February 1962
Cover artist: Hart Amos

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Superboy For A Day
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #8, October 1955)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Grown-Up Boy Wonder
Bill Finger/Sheldon Moldoff/Stan Kaye
(Batman #107, April 1957)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Boy Planeteer
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #250, March 1959)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Three Who Defied Death!
Otto Binder/Curt Swan
(Superboy #37, December 1954)
Note: Original is 10 pages. This version has some crudely enlarged panels, extending the story by 2 pages.

Aquaman: The Showoff of the Seven Seas
Ramona Fradon/Charles Paris
(Adventure Comics #226, July 1956)

The Imp on the Flying Trapeze
Bill Ely
(House of Mystery #43, October 1955)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Most Wanted Man in Space
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #214, March 1956)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: Public Chimp Number One!
Curt Swan/Creig Flessel
(Superboy #38, January 1955)

I Had a Date with Doom
(My Greatest Adventure #4, July-August 1955)

Aquaman: Aquaman Walks The Plank!
Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #197, February 1954)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Boy Superman
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #14, August 1956)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Mysterious Bat-Missile
Arnold Drake/Sheldon Moldoff/Charles Paris
(Batman #105, February 1957)

I Raced Death Around The World
Bill Ely
(My Greatest Adventure #6, November-December 1955)

Tommy Tomorrow: The Tom Thumb Tommy Tomorrow
Otto Binder/Jim Mooney
(Action Comics #219, August 1956)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Amazing Elephant Boy from Smallville!
Curt Swan/Creig Flessel
(Superboy #31, March 1954)

Secret of the Phantom Indian
Jim McArdle
(House of Mystery #39, June 1955)

Aquaman: Under the Sea for Life!
George Kashdan/John Daly
(Adventure Comics #162, March 1951)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Jimmy Olsen, Speed Demon
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #15, September 1956)

Dinosaur Island
Bill Ely
(House of Mystery #41, August 1955)

Green Arrow: The Case of the Taunting Targets!
George Papp/Jack Schiff
(World's Finest Comics #55, December 1951-January 1952)

The Statue That Came To Life
John Prentice
(House of Mystery #37, April 1955)

Plus the following fillers: Little Pete, Varsity Vic

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Colossal Hart Amos

Colossal Comic
Colossal Comic is one of my favourite series of Australian reprint comics published by K.G. Murray in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Colossal Comic began as Colossal Comic Annual (for the first five issues) in mid-1956 and appeared semi-regularly for approximately 15 years until the final 54th issue in 1970, thus spanning the Silver Age.

Colossal Comic was an anomalous title in the mainline K.G. Murray reprint stable. Most of the new wave of K.G. Murray Silver Age titles post-Century #1 were monthly or bi-monthly 100-page anthologies reprinting mainly contemporary DC comics. Mammoth Annual and Gigantic Annual were bumper sized anthologies but were comprised of coverless rebound issues wrapped in new covers, mostly by Hart Amos.

Colossal Comic fell somewhere between these two formats. It was a bumper 148-page issue, bigger than the standard 100-page (or, for a period, 116 page) periodicals, but distinctly slimmer than Gigantic Annual and Mammoth Annual. And, like Gigantic Annual and Mammoth Annual, it was also dressed in new covers for previously published K. G. Murray comics. But unlike Gigantic Annual and Mammoth Annual, Colossal was not comprised of coverless issues. Colossal reprinted stories previously published by K.G. Murray in the pre-1956 pamphlet-size series such as Superman, Batman and Super Adventure Comic.

The Hart Amos Covers
Aside from the contents, the Hart Amos covers for Colossal Comic (see previous discussion on The New Amos Style re: Century #1) are one reason these comics are fondly regarded by collectors. The Amos covers typically depicted the superheroes in idyllic scenes of friendship, games and frolic. They smiled, they were jovial, clownish, prankish and even gleefully foolish. In essence, the characters played. They behaved like kids!

Amos’ covers have more in common with the Golden Age than the Silver Age – indeed, they are indebted to the pre- team-up World’s Finest Comics series of covers. These generic images are appropriate to the anthology format, in contrast to the typical DC Silver Age cover which was plot-based and relied heavily on speech balloons and other text to set the scene or ‘problem’ of the issue. The Amos covers were poses, or frozen action shots, not excerpted narrative frames.

Amos typically relied on two tropes for his anthology covers. One was the montage scene, and the other was the group scene.

In the montage scene he would contrive a situation in which a number of characters would appear as ‘elements’ in the scene – for example, the puffs of smoke on Century #1; the banners on Colossal Comic Annual #2; the photos on Gigantic Annual #3.

The group scene is the one in which an event or situation is contrived which involves the various characters as participants or onlookers. Examples include the sleigh ride on Mammoth Annual #2; the photo shoot on Gigantic Annual #1; the parachute jumping on Century #5.

Occasionally, the two tropes would be incorporated within the one image. On the cover of Gigantic Annual #4 a group of characters is looking at a copy of Gigantic Annual, which features photos of other characters on the cover-within-a-cover. On Colossal Comic #39 (see above) Batman and Robin appear as silhouettes, and as images in the kites.

The image on Colossal Comic Annual #1 is a particularly ambiguous one in this schema. In this one four characters are standing on one another’s shoulders, which would usually pass as a typically contrived situation to include all the characters in a play scene. However, the images are repeated in copies or facsimiles of each image, which suggests we are looking at pictures or representations of the characters, and not the characters themselves. I have always considered this the ‘gift wrapping paper’ cover. It is an adaptation of the image used on World's Finest Comics #37, November-December 1948 by Win Mortimer, with Aquaman added into the mix. A few years later such an image of repetitions and artifice of cartoon characters could have been deemed an exemplar of PopArt.

One of my favourite covers is for Colossal Comic #39. On the one hand it is a typical Amos scene – Superman flying a kite in the foreground with Batman and Robin in the background. And yet there is something eerie and unnerving in this scene, even sinister. Maybe it’s the shadowy figures in the background. Or maybe it’s the faces of Batman and Robin in the kites, flying just above the silhouettes on the two-dimensional plane, suggesting the essences or souls of the figures have vacated the bodies and have manifested entrapped in the kites, similarly to the portrayal of the Phantom Zone in the Superman movies and the Smallville tv series. And why is Superman smiling a determined smile rather than a joyful smile? All of this is just my fancy of course, but it is a striking and suitably ambiguous cover image for an anomalous issue as Colossal #39 is notable for reprinting no less than 10 features directly from the pages of the first issue of All Favourites Comic (the unnumbered All Favourites Comic Annual).

It is difficult today not to regard the classic Amos DC-related cover as ‘nostalgic’. Or, to be uncharitable, as ‘kitsch’ or ‘camp’. I prefer to take the middle ground in this instance and settle for “agreeably cheesy".

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Gigantic Annual # 5

I don’t know who the artist is on the cover of Gigantic Annual #5 (1964), but I reckon he does a great job of mimicking John Sikela's style.

It’s clearly not Hart Amos. I posed the question some time ago to Kevin Patrick, and he advised it’s not Peter Chapman, who did some K.G. Murray covers for DC material such as on the Color Giant #2. Nor is it John Dixon or Yaroslav Horak.

Anyone care to vote for Peter James or Kevin Hardacre - a couple of names Kevin threw into the mix - or anyone else as likely candidates?

Regardless of the identity of the artist, the style is certainly consistent with the Amos template set up for Mammoth Annual, Gigantic Annual and Colossal Comic.

For the record, my copy contains the following rebound issues:

Century Comic #86, July 1963
The Hundred Comic #82, September 1963
All Favourites #37, June 1963

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Mighty Comic # 38

Mighty Comic #38, November 1963
Cover artist: Murphy Anderson

Justice League: Triumph of the Tornado Tyrant!
Mike Sekowsky/Gardner Fox/Bernard Sachs
(Justice League of America #17, February 1963)

The Space Ranger: The Army of Enemy Space Rangers
Phil Kelsey
(Tales of the Unexpected #78, August-September 1963)

Tomahawk: The Ghost of Lord Shilling
Fred Ray
(Tomahawk #75, July-August 1961)

The Phantom Pilot
Ruben Moreira
(House of Mystery #127, October 1962)

The Microscopic Doom
Mort Meskin
(House of Mystery #134, May 1963)

A Space Museum Story: The Mass-Energy Robbers of Space!
Gardner Fox/Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson
(Strange Adventures #145, October 1962)

Earth Hero Number One!
Gardner Fox/Gil Kane/Murphy Anderson
(Strange Adventures #148, January 1963)

Hopalong Cassidy starring William Boyd: Indian Warpath!
(Original unidentified, 10 pages)

Strange Sports Stories: Saga of the Secret Sportsmen!
John Broome/Carmine Infantino/Murphy Anderson
(The Brave and the Bold #47, April-May 1963)

I picked up a few Mighty Comics this week, most in rough condition - hence the cover scan above courtesy of - but it's hard to pass up the chance at a few JLA-era Mighty's regardless of the condition.

This batch has helped me fill in some gaps in JLA appearances in the Mighty's. Strange as it may seem, they were not always the cover feature, even for key JLA issues, so if I get the chance in the next few days I'll look at tracking the early JLA appearances in Mighty Comic.

Friday, June 1, 2007

The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake Part 5

And the hits on The Alex Toth Reprint Stocktake just keep on coming…

Hopalong Cassidy starring William Boyd: The Badmen of Roaring Flame Valley!
Alex Toth/Joe Giella
Jimmy Wakely #14, November-December 1951
Mighty Comic #35, June 1963

This makes it 37 Toth reprints spotted in the K.G. Murray titles so far.

Joe Giella is not one of my favourite DC Silver Age inkers. I find him serviceable on the likes of Sheldon Moldoff, but I feel he’s too bland on the more expressive pencillers like Infantino, especially when compared to the likes of Murphy Anderson or Frank Giacoia, or indeed to Infantino’s own inks. In other words he’s a decent enough second tier inker on second tier pencillers, but to my mind is not really suited to bringing out the nuances in the top tier pencillers.

So I’m not overjoyed to find Giella on Toth. Some of the shading is a bit too coarse, and some of the outlines are a bit too heavy handed. (In fact it doesn't look to me like typical Giella inking anyway, but it says so on the GCD so...) Yet in some panels, as in the ones above, this is thankfully not evident so much. The very nature of the silhouettes doesn’t allow for the limitations in Giella’s style, and in some ways plays to his strengths.

And yes, I also thought of Sin City when I first saw some of these panels.