THE RUIN

of many a poor boy

MY FAVOURITE FUNNIES No. 22

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mother tell your children not to do what i have done

House of the Rising Sun–The Animals (1964).

I warn you now this is a horror story.

break.tec369In the following post you will see such terrors as no human should have to see. Yet sadly it’s all true.

It’s been said that you always hurt the ones you love and I say this must be so, because it’s those funnies I loved best that were hurt the most. In fact, of those most precious, little remains but scraps.

It’s enough to make a poor boy weep for all that was lost.

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Batgirl Breaks Up the Dynamic Duo, DETECTIVE COMICS No. 369 (November ’67); story: Gardner Fox; art: Carmine Infantino & Sid Greene.

Not just issue 369, but every issue from 361 thru 369 of DETECTIVE COMICS–all bought new at the drugstore–lost their covers, pages fell out, many were ripped–hardly much of these original issues remains now.

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Ride, Bat-Hombre, Ride, BATMAN No. 193/G-37 (July-August ’67); story: David Vern Reed; art: Dick Sprang & Charles Paris. Reprinted from BATMAN No. 56 (December ’49 – January ’50).

Like so many jigsaw pieces, vestiges of these treasured stories suvived to be read again–memory filling in the gaps.

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tell it to koppy mcfad

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aicfad.coveraicfad.faganKoppy McFad reportedly had the most comic books in America. I learned this fact from ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME, in the article by Tom Fagan, All On One And One On All. Otherwise known as Supersnipe, Koppy had his own funny book published by Street & Smith.

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All On One And One On All, ALL IN COLOR FOR A DIME (Ace Books: 1970); writer: Tom Fagan.

From the way that Fagan writes about the comics from his youth, I assume the man must have had a collection to rival that of McFad himself. And this is the same Tom Fagan who held an annual Hallowe’en parade in Rutland, Vermont, which celebrated the comic book characters he adored.

The Tom Fagans and the Koppy McFads of this world kept their funny books in spiffy condition. But not me and not the many other schlubs who abused their comics without considering the consequences.

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SUPERSNIPE COMICS Vol. 2, No. 7 [19] (February ’45); story: Edward I. Gruskin; art: George Marcoux.

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Now–when I, in vain attempt to replace my misspent childhood, desperately search to find better copies of those funny books I so heartlessly spoiled–I regard an issue someone else has managed to preserve with such remarkable deportment and I wonder what Koppy McFad was this who had such qualities as I so lacked.

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à la recherche du temps perdu

The first Batman comic book I ever bought new in a drugstore was BATMAN No. 188 (December ’66). This comic cover featured The Eraser Who Tried to Rub Out Batman.

I still remember first reading that comic–or, well, how I used to read comics in the beginning, being only eight years old–as I would look at the pictures and try to figure out the story from those, and only then checking captions and dialogue–to the degree I could make them out–for further clues to the unfolding action.

I spent so much time with BATMAN 188 and, each time I went back to it, I sucked more meaning out of it. It seems shameful that I drew on the comic in pen–but these ammendments suggest what was on my mind at the time.
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The Eraser Who Tried to Rub Out Batman, BATMAN No. 188 (December ’66); story: Robert Kanigher; art: Sheldon Moldoff & Joe Giella.
The Hunter, ADVENTURE COMICS No. 358 (July ’67); story: Jim Shooter; art: George Papp.

ADVENTURE COMICS No. 358 (July ’67) featured one of my favourite Legion stories–The Hunter. This borrowed heavily from the plot of The Most Dangerouse Game by Robert Connell (first published in COLLIER’S in 1924). Out of love, I suppose, I made a few tasteful additions here and there with my pen.

Even though I’ve since bought copies of both these funny books fully intact, as well as many others–it’s the sad residue of what once were pristine prizes that remind me best of those days. It’s much more meaningful to hold the detritus of my beloved copy than another someone else happened to preserve so well.

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unsolved mysteries

Some funnies already arrived in my hand lacking covers and even sometimes inside pages. Some of these I still don’t know what title or issue they are, while others with some detective work can be traced.

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Funny pages from a Flintstones, a Mickey Mouse and an Alvin & the Chipmunks. Title, issue number, writer, artist: all unknown.

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jimmmy.incompleteFor, example I had this pre-owned Jimmy Olsen comic book–which for many years smelt like salt and vinegar chips. Maybe whoever had owned it was a lover of such chips, I thought–but other comics have this odour and it seems that some funny books will ferment under the right conditions.

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The Mystery of Convict 313, SUPERMAN’S PAL, JIMMY OLSEN No. 75 (March ’64); story: Leo Dorfman; art: John Forte.

As it was missing the cover and some inside pages, I never knew the original issue number [modern databases online have solved that problem]. The story involving a convict who may or may not be Jimmy’s father had no ending and I was forever wondering what the truth of the story could be.

It would be quite a challenge for Master Olsen to accept that his father had been a bad ‘un–and maybe just as concerning, this con was balding. Did that mean that our Jimmy would also one day go bald?

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remains of the day

Beggars can’t be choosers and when I was fortunate to get my funnies for free, I wasn’t about to complain.

Our elementary school had a bazaar every year and among the grab bag prizes for kids were funny books (rolled up and tied to a “fishing pole” as I recall). This is how I came to own GREEN LANTERN No. 27 (March ’64)–which was already worn and marked up from previous ownership. But who could complain. Another benefit of  pre-owned funny books was that they sometimes dated back further in time than what I had known. This satisfied my already developing interest as a prospector of comic book archæology
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Mystery of the Deserted City, GREEN LANTERN No. 27 (March ’64); cover art: Gil Kane & Murphy Anderson.
DENNIS THE MENACE No. 78 (May ’65); cover art: Owen Fitzgerald.

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But no doubt some of the funnies that ended up in the box under my bed had simply travelled down the hallway from my sisters’ who once had a large stash of their own in their bedroom. Either intact or in part these comingled with my collection.

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CINDERELLA No. 1 (August ’65). A Gold Key comic reprinted from  Dell’s FOUR COLOR No. 272 (April ’50).

I must have taken a pulled out folio (of four pages) from my sister’s copy of CINDERELLA, that she got new as a present–because it’s among my souvenirs. Oops!

See AS YOU LIKE IT–for more on this controversial Cinderella comic.

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nothing gold can stay

I destroyed so many of my funny books that I regard it as a minor miracle that any resemble their former state. That a cover could actually survive–even if much distressed–is enough to be thankful for.

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The Thing from 40,000 A.D., SUPERMAN No. 196 (May ’67); cover art: Curt Swan & George Klein.
The Race Between Superman & Flash, SUPERMAN No. 199 (August ’67); cover art: Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson.

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Giant-sized comics were even less likely to survive–although owing to their extra pages, it was possible for the inner guts of the funny book to stay long after everything else had gone.

I already wrote at length about SUPER HEROES VERSUS SUPER VILLAINS (1966) [see: Super-Heroes By Any . . .]–which never had a cover so far as I knew. And it continued to lose bits of itself the more I read it–being the comic that I probably read more often than any other.

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The Creature from the Abyss, SUPER HEROES VERSUS SUPER VILLAINS (1966); story: Jerry Siegel; art: Paul Reinman & Frank Giacoia. Reprinted from FLY MAN No. 34 (November ’65).
The Fattest Girl in Metropolis, SUPERMAN’S GIRL FRIEND, LOIS LANE No. 77/G-39 (September-October ’67); story: Otto Binder; art: Kurt Schaffenberger.
RICHIE RICH DOLLARS & CENTS No. 21 (December ’67); art: Ernie Colón?

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Other Giants, with and without covers when I got them, followed the same path. Even the Koppy McFads were unable to keep these comics in pristine condition, I surmise. Giants almost instantly started to fall apart as soon as you had bought them. No wonder the folks in the drug store were so hard-nosed about not handling the comics until after one had purchased them.

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this is reality, deal with it!

Consider these life lessons. If I had it to do again, I would probably try to take better care with my things. But maybe that’s the wrong lesson. We are all a bit too precious with these funny books–grading them, sealing them in special containment vessels, handling them as sacred objects.

If the makers of these books had that opinion they would not have printed and bound them with such flimsy materials. Comic books were supposed to be a disposable junk culture. It’s rather perverse that we made them into something other than what they were designed to be.

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The New Minerva Tuttle, PATSY AND HEDY No. 89 (August ’63); story: Stan Lee; art: Al Hartley.
Cake Mistake, JUGHEAD No. 148 (September ’67).
Jeepers! It’s the Junker, THE MIGHTY HEROES No. 3 (May ’67).

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Nor did the dealers in these funny magazines much care about the merchandise. They’d mark the covers with dates or their own obscure codes. And when the books were sold in five and ten cent stores, the seller was apt to write all over the cover with no care for what fan favourite had toiled on that cover–whether it be a Neal Adams or a Carmine Infantino. Who were they to him or her?

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Above
Wail of the Ghost Bride, BATMAN No. 236 (November ’71); cover art: Neal Adams & Dick Giordano.
BATMAN No. 238/DC-8 (January ’72); cover art: Neal Adams & Dick Giordano.

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But a word of caution. If you think you can repair these items, think again. You’ll only make it worse. And don’t use tape. DON’T USE TAPE!

Opposite ⇒
The Blockbuster Goes Bat-Mad, BATMAN No. 194 (AUGUST ’67); cover art: Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson.

This is the original Infantino and Anderson cover that inspired this issue’s cover logo. Naturally Aged.

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NEXT:
on the fly
first time in Canada
Sat. Aug. 22
those lads from Liverpool

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and then back to school with

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I WAS A TEEN-AGE GIANT

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. . . the best time to visit Paris is the second week in August . . .

On the 8th of August ’78, it all starts when a little girl follows a white rabbit down a hole.  Doug Moench and Frank W. Bolle adapt ALICE IN WONDERLAND for MARVEL CLASSICS COMICS No. 35.

Shazam26Hey it’s ’76 not ’46 (August 9th ’76 to be precise) so Uncle Marvel has to get with the times! Dudley H. Dudley adopts a taste for safari jackets and waxed moustaches as he becomes Mr. Mentor to Billy–and the Old Wizard sends them out on a quest across America in a recreational vehicle (in keeping with the Saturday morning version of Captain Marvel) in SHAZAM!  No. 26 (November-December ’76).

A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty Hi-Yo, Silver! The Lone Ranger! With his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, the daring and resourceful masked rider of the plains led the fight for law and order, in the early western United States. Nowhere in the pages of history can one find a greater champion of justice. Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. From out of the past come the thundering hoofbeats of the great horse Silver! The Lone Ranger rides again! . . .

–in Dell’s FOUR COLOR No. 82 on August 10th ’45 [reprints the King Features comic strip from ’42].

CMA150Weddings always make me cry but you’ll be crying for completely different reasons on the 10th of August ’53 –issue No. 150 is the final issue of CAPTAIN MARVEL ADVENTURES (November ’53)–will Cap’s career end in marriage?

80pg15Coming August 12th ’65 . . . the 15th issue of 80 PAGE GIANT (October ’65) presents the World’s Finest Heroes–Superman and Batman–in thrilling adventures together, with an all-star collection of some of their greatest team-ups.

At your local drugstore, on the 12th of August ’71,  in SUPERMAN No. 243 (October ’71), the Man of Tomorrow travels through space and time, when he encounters the legendary Starry-Eyed Siren of Space–plus another tale of the world of Krypton and a classic Superman reprint that was originally held back for publication until late ’45 because it revealed atomic secrets.

It’s the People vs the Batman, but the Caped Crusader is cleared of criminal charges and receives honorary membership in the Gotham police force, in BATMAN No. 7 (October-November ’41). At your newsdealer on the 13th of August ’41.

On sale August 14th ’69, in DC SPECIAL No. (October-December ’69),  Joe Kubert is at the drawing board for this giant celebration of his art, with an all-new four page introduction and an additional two pages on his characters written and illustrated by Kubert himself.

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. . . all things both great and small for the third week in August . . .

In FLASH COMICS No. 10 (October ’40), Hawkman doesn’t need a jet plane to fly Rocky Mountain high in Colorado, as John Denver secures the map to a gold mine. Get to the newsstand before the sunshine on your shoulder, August 15th ’40.

DMQ1Quality’s Mighty Mite gets his own quarterly magazine when the first issue of  THE DOLL MAN QUARTERLY (Fall ’41) goes on sale August 15th ’41.

At your newsstand on August 15th ’63, the giant-sized FLASH ANNUAL No. 1 reprints Famous Flash Firsts, including the first appearances of the Elongated Man and Kid Flash, plus the Golden Age Flash‘s first meeting with the Golden Age Star Sapphire. And a special feature page by Carmine Infantino: How I Draw the Flash.

How to Draw the Flash by Carmine Infantino

How I Draw the Flash, by Carmine Infantino, THE FLASH ANNUAL No. 1 (’63)

The November ’66 issue of STUMBO TINYTOWN (No. 13) is the final issue of the giant–on sale the 15th of August ’66.

Gold Key adapts the popular TV series, 77 SUNSET STRIP, with the first issue (November ’62) coming out August 16th ’62.

August 19th ’65 the October ’65 issue of SUPERBOY No. 124 is a triple threat, with a story about how Lana Lang first becomes the Insect Queen, then a yarn about Superbaby’s stunning display of prowess in the boxing ring, with the concluding tale positing what if Clark acted like a mean bully to protect his secret identity.Superboy124

The 19th of August ’75 proves to be an adaptable day . . . as Charlton adapts TV’s SPACE 1999, in issue No. 1 (November ’75) . . . while DC and Marvel work together to publish an adaptation of MGM’s MARVELOUS WIZARD OF OZ in the tabloid format.

At your newsdealer the 20th of August ’40, Al Pratt is humiliated by others for being too short, so he goes to ex-boxer Joe Morgan who trains him how to beat up people–and he takes the name of the Mighty Atom (though he does not appear in costume in this his first story), in the October ’40 issue of ALL-AMERICAN COMICS (No. 19).

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. . . the cat did it, the last week in August . . .

On August 23rd ’56 . . . in SUGAR AND SPIKE No. 4 (October-November ’56), Sugar teaches Spike two words in grown up talk that she has learned will get them out of any jam–”I sowwy”–which she thinks means “the cat did it” . . . and on the planet Juno, SUPERBOY meets its champion Power-Boy, in issue No. 52 of the Boy of Steel’s magazine (October ’56).

Coming to a newsstand near you the 25th of August ’70: The King is here and DC’s got him! Jack “King” Kirby explodes on the scene with SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN No. 133 (October ’70), introducing a new Newsboy Legion–and that’s just for starters–wait for more announcements from DC in the coming months ahead! Meanwhile, the Old Timer must defend himself and his hard-travelling heroes–GREEN LANTERN and Green Arrow–to the Guardians of the Universe in the October ’70 issue (No. 80) of the Emerald Warriors’ mag. No doubt you’ve heard of the Mod Squad, hey what old pip, but now join Batman on a jaunt to merry old England, where he finds his own fab Bat Squad, by jove–it’s sure to be top gear–all in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD (October-November ’70), issue No. 92, available at your nearest news shop, I say, cheerio!

August 26th ’49,  DC launches two comic magazines straight from Hollywood: THE ADVENTURES OF ALAN LADD No. 1 and THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET No. 1–both cover dated October-November ’49. Alan Ladd rose to stardom in the ’40s playing cool, hard-faced villains and heroes, and formed his own film and radio production company in ’48–starring on radio in ’49, as well as continuing to feature in big box office pictures, including Westerns. THE ADVENTURES OF OZZIE AND HARRIET started out on radio after Red Skelton was drafted in ’44—Ozzie Nelson filled the spot when he created his own family situation comedy—the two boys originally being played by actors, until ’49 when Ricky and David joined the cast—Ozzie Nelson’s orchestra was also featured.

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Watch out John, Paul, George and Ringo! Jimmy Olsen has got a guitar and he knows how to use it in SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN No. 88 (October ’65)! Starman and Black Canary team up in THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD No. 62 (October-November ’65)–but are they a match for the Sportsmaster and the Huntress? And speaking of couples, ADVENTURE COMICS plays the wedding march for a double ceremony of matrimony in the October ’65 issue (No. 337), when Saturn Girl weds Lightning Lad and Phantom Girl weds Ultra Boy.  And who is the crime boss who was always one step ahead of Batman? Find out in DETECTIVE COMICS No. 344 (October ’65)–plus a bonus for all you French lovers, as l’Homme Étendu (that means Elongated Man) is on the prowl in the City of Lights. Meanwhile, back on Earth-Two, the Golden Age GL takes the stage, as GREEN LANTERN No. 40 (October ’65) reveals the truth behind everything–the secret origins of the universe, the Guardians, the Green Lanterns, etc. DC has all the hit singles on August 26th ’65.

It is an epic tale of four men–Jim Kelley who rises from New York district attorney to mayor to governor–Joe Connor, put in prison by D.A. Kelley, who educates himself on the inside and emerges doctor, lawyer, scientist and the criminal secretly known as the ThreatRoy Revenge in reality the son of Jim Kelley, abducted by Connor as a youth, raised by Connor as his son and taught to hate Kelley–and Jay Garrick aka the Flash, whose origin is briefly recapped in this issue, that details how he first encountered the Threat in his early days in New York and the many years that unfolded after–all in ALL-FLASH QUARTERLY (Fall ’41) No. 2–at your newsstand the 27th of August ’41.

On sale the 28th of August ’42PICTURE STORIES FROM THE BIBLE No. 1 publishes stories from the Old Testament. [Published by M.C. Gaines All-American Comics, Inc.–later that decade Gaines would publish the same title when he created Educational Comics/Entertaining Comics (EC).]

MARVEL1939August 31st ’39MARVEL COMICS No. 1 (October ’39), featuring the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, goes on sale as Timely enters the comic publishing business.

For the first time in his life SUPERMAN realizes that he is an alien sent as a baby in a rocket from a doomed planet, in issue No. 61 of the Man of Tomorrow’s November-December ’49 magazine, at your newsstand on the 31st of August ’49. The Metropolis Marvel discovers a strange mineral, dubbed Kryptonite, and he flies through time to visit his home planet as a phantom, witnessing the tragedy of Krypton.

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All on sale dates might be approximate, as provided by Mike’s Amazing World of Comics (The Newsstand) and by other sources.

All characters, logos, and images are owned and © 2015 by current copyright holders. They are used here for educational and review purposes.

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