Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Am I Just Gettin' Old?

When I was a kid, I didn't get to town much. We lived out in the country and trips to town were seldom and usually revolved around buying groceries. I'm not trying to give you the impression that we grew up on Waltons Mountain or Walnut Grove, but most of what we ate, we grew, but trips to town were still needed. My parents were smart. I see parents today dragging their screamin', mulin' kids through the grocery stores today and I just shake my head. Dragging your kid along the the grocery store or Walmart and not buying them anything is torture for both parent and child! Why put yourself through that?

I'm getting off the point. When I was a kid, circa 1977, if I was lucky enough to get to ride along (With no seat belt on, I might add!) with the Old Man to whatever store he had to go to to buy oil or a box of 12-gauge shells, for a buck, I could buy two comic books, a candy bar and a bottle of pop, usually a bottle of Royal Crown. Of course, he'd always tell me how much comics were in His Day and how he'd earned that dollar, but as my own kids are getting older and I find myself reflecting on my youth, I totally get where he was coming from.

Once again, I'm off track. The biggest draw back to living out in the sticks and rarely getting to town was the big holes between issues of my favorite comic book titles. Back then, I didn't care so much. I'd read whatever I had so many times that, now, thirty years later, those old books of mine have since crumbled and returned to the elements from wince they came.

Thank God for little comic book shows like the one I attended last week. If you look around, you can find almost all of those great old books for a buck or two and relive those glorious days of yesteryear! As I see it, why buy the crap today for three bucks when, for a buck, you can read comics from those halcyon days when people still knew what the hell a comic really was! Of course, there are still some good "mainstream" titles out there today as well as some fantastic "Indy" books such as those produced by my contemporaries (Yeah, that was a shameless plug).

One of my favorite issues from my youth was Marvel's Invaders #36. I'd originally bought it because of Captain America, but the book's villain Iron Cross quickly became one of my favorite bad guys and served as an archetype for all the armored characters I'd create in my formative years. More so that even Iron Man. Of course, the end of the issue left me hanging for nearly thirty years. As most of you know, finishing my Invaders collection was my big resolution for '07 and, with the help of such little shows as the one I recently attended in South Bend, I just might make it.
Back during WW II, code names like "The Whizzer" conjured up whole different meanings than they would today.
One of my earliest comic book characters I created was an armored guy named the Crimson Crusader, who looked suspiciously like Iron Cross, although I had the good sense to remove the Iron Cross and pointy helmet from his suit. I'd post a picture of him, but that would be embarrassing for all of us. Hey, I was, like twelve at the time.
Finally, after nearly thirty years, I found out the fate of Cap & Company in Invaders #37!

I was also able to nearly complete the nine-issue Bicentennial storyline running through Captain America around issue 200 (what else, right?), written & drawn by Jack "The King" Kirby. The "Mad Bomb" storyline, beginning with #193, marked Kirby's return to the book and offered up a whole new dynamic that makes no bones about being a comic book. The story might come off as a bit cheesy compared to the "ultra reality" of today's books, but if I wanted "reality," I wouldn't read comic books.

Amidst a story of over-the-top action, we have a moment of social commentary between Cap and his buddy Falcon that is as well placed as any roundhouse punch delivered by the Star-Spangled Avenger.
And speaking of action, fergeddaboudit! Nobody did action like The King!
Here's another comic from my youth that was lost in time. Although long-time Hulk artist Herb Trimpe, along with Joe Staton supplied the interior art for this issue, the cover (though uncredited in the Mighty Marvel Manner) was clearly penciled by industry giant Gil Kane. This along with countless other reasons is what's wrong with Marvel Comics today. Covers sell books, it's a fact. Back in the day, a comic book's cover gave you a glimpse of what waited for you inside, although sometimes misleading you on purpose such as the cover to Invaders #35 (posted above). Nonetheless, the covers told a story as much as the interior. Anymore, Marvel's covers are just mini posters of the book's heroes just standing around striking heroic poses with little clue as to what awaits you within its glossy, overpriced pages.
This particular issue pitted Doc Samson in a rematch against the green-skinned Goliath. Samson has always been one of my favorite super heroes who, for some reason, never got his own title. Peter David did some cool things with him within the past decade, but he still never got his own book, until recently, but here's the catch: Marvel, in its infinite wisdom, changed his friggin' uniform! Why would you change that uniform?! I can't tell you how many times I've aped that uniform for some of my own characters! One day, I plan on doing a Doc Samson painting, but more on that later.

And as for other things I'll be doing in the future, with the popularity of my "Dollar Store Cinema" posts (from all twelve of you who read my blog), I'm going to be turning DSC into its own blog.
My first post will be for "Isle of the Snake People," starring the legendary Boris Karlof.

And having said that, all I can say is, see you next time, boppers!

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