Sunday, November 4, 2007

Colossal Comic #17: The Prototype of the Colossal Arc Cover

Colossal Comic #17, April c.1961
Cover artist: Hart Amos
Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Man Who Knew Superboy's Identity!Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Creig Flessel
(Superboy #36, October 1954)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: Storm Over Gotham City!Dick Sprang/Charles Paris
(Batman #106, March 1957)

The Green Arrow: The Satellite Arrow
France Herron/George Papp
(Adventure Comics #221, February 1956)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: The Missile of Steel
Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #9, December 1955)

Peter Fury: The Case of the Stolen Formula!Leonard Keith Lawson (as Keith Leonard)
(A Climax Color Comic 6, 1948)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Tree That Drove Smallville Wild!Curt Swan/Sy Barry
(Superboy #29, December 1953)

Aquaman: A Fish Out of Water!John Daly
(Adventure Comics #127, April 1948)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: The Third Alarm for Batman!Sheldon Moldoff/Stan Kaye
(Batman #96, December 1955)

The Green Arrow: The World's Worst Archer!George Papp
Adventure Comics #200, May 1954
Note: There is another Green Arrow story with the same title, originally published in Adventure Comics #262, July 1959.

Tommy Tomorrow: Destination Future!(Action Comics #206, July 1955)

Superman: Superman's Other Life!William Woolfolk/Al Plastino
(Superman #84, September-October 1953)
Note: There are two Superman stories with the same title. This is the "disc jockey" story. The other one is the famous "Futuro" 3-parter originally published in Superman #132, October 1959.

Aquaman: Treasures of the Sea!Jack Miller/Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #167, August 1951)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Wizard CityBill Finger/Curt Swan/George Klein
(Adventure Comics #216, September 1955)

Batman with Robin The Boy Wonder: City of Fantasy!Bill Finger/Dick Sprang/Sheldon Moldoff
(Batman #90, March 1955)

Superman: Anti-Superman WeaponAl Plastino
(Action Comics 177, February 1953)
Note: Panels reduced in size on last couple of pages

Aquaman: The River Gang!Ramona Fradon
(Adventure Comics #195, December 1953)

Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen: Jungle Jimmy Olsen!Otto Binder/Curt Swan/Ray Burnley
(Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen 10, February 1956)

Superboy The Adventures of Superman When He Was a Boy: The Super-Dog from Krypton!Curt Swan/John Fischetti
(Adventure Comics 210, March 1955)

Plus a number of fillers: Varsity Vic, Chief Hot Foot, What's the Difference Between..., Casey the Cop, Professor Eureka and Jail Jests.

Colossal Comic Annual #1 may be the single most sought-after Colossal issue, but this one must surely rate as one of the scarcest. I certainly haven’t seen one before, and I don’t know anyone else who has a copy. So if you do come across a copy, my suggestion is you do what I did: pay the asking price without blinking, count yourself lucky, and run before they change their minds.

It’s an interesting issue contents-wise, not least because of the unexpected inclusion of a Climax Color Comic reprint. Also interesting to find the lesser-known versions of “The World's Worst Archer!” and “Superman's Other Life!”. And always good to top off Colossals with one or two rarely-reprinted Sprang Batman comics.

Also interesting to note some of these stories were later reprinted in the regular K.G. Murray titles between 1965-1967. Two of the stories (“A Fish Out of Water!” and “Destination Future!”) appeared in Wonder Comic Monthly #30, October 1967, whilst another (“The Missile of Steel”) was placed in World's Finest Comic Monthly #30, October 1967 in the same period, suggesting this Colossal issue (like others before it) was targeted and plundered for back-up material. I expect to find even more of the contents of this issue appear in other titles/issue from the 1965-1967 period.

Apart from the contents, the cover is a beauty! I’ve noted before that many of the Colossal covers after #30 incorporated a yellow arc in the layout (see for example Colossal Comic #32; Colossal Comic #35; Colossal Comic #36; and Colossal Comic #39). There were earlier instances of transitional or proxy arcs (for example, the yellow boxes on Colossal Comic #24; the yellow arc on the floor of Colossal Comic #25; the cloud formation on Colossal Comic #20 and Colossal Comic #21; and by extension, the white clouds on Colossal Comic #19).

In this schema, the white shimmering circle on the cover of Colossal Comic #17 is not just another transitional moment in the development of this visual motif, but it may be deemed the genuine prototype. Earlier covers such as Colossal Comic Annual #4 and Colossal Comic #8 do have prominent yellow backgrounds, and other covers may also incorporate white circles in the frame. But this appears to be the closest of the early forerunners to a bone fide simulation of the final established model in which a shimmering light, or a ‘spotlight’ yellow arc is contrasted with the black background on which the logo is set.

There are a few Colossal covers preceding #17 which I haven’t seen yet, so it will be interesting to see whether there are any earlier arc prototypes!

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