Bookery

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    The Post-man always rings twice. Uhm... ring ring?

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  1. At present, yes. But how many $10 comics became $100 comics in short order once CGC came along and gave them "official" high grade status? Would a common comic like Hulk 181 (one of a thousand examples) be worth only a fraction of its current value had CGC not come along. Almost certainly.
  2. Reasons 3 , 4 and 5 are particular problems with the concept of slabbing pulps. But I am a bit surprised no company has considered slabbing paperbacks. There are more paperbacks on the planet than comic books. Unlike pulps, which had a finite lifespan which ended in the 1950s, paperbacks are still in existence, and just as there are folks slabbing last week's comics, there would be collectors who would want their favorite authors, even contemporary ones, slabbed. The collector market is fairly small for vintage paperbacks, but once graded, I suspect that alone would increase demand many-fold. The slab would have to be completely different, of course... likely something that could be shelved like a book spine-outward. But if they can grade carded toys, they can certainly come up with something for books. You would need experts on hand, however... knowing which books/publishers used lamination and which didn't, which books came off the presses with certain defects, which books have pages that yellowed over time, and which books just looked that way from day one, etc. There are a multitude of thicknesses to deal with, and two or three different height-dimensions.
  3. Speaking of Bookery's guide... for what it's worth, after a 14-year hiatus, I've finally completed the 3rd edition (well, still have to add forward and cross-indexes), but the main body is done. Much improved over previous editions, IMHO. However... not sure how to get it published in today's market... or if I'll bother. I can't self-publish like I did the last one... I was able to get a good deal from the printer (my brother) but he's no longer in the business, so getting printing from non-family will be much more expensive. Besides, I no longer have the time to box-up and ship 1,000 separate books all over the world. I also don't have a private pulp collection anymore from which to obtain scans (can't just go using folks' scans off the internet). Most pulp people want a physical book... they aren't looking to download them onto a reader. May contact Overstreet (a long time ago they showed interest in doing one), but market may be too small for them to bother with, and I'm not sure if they end up owning all rights or not. Most of the old reference book publishers have bit the dust in the past decade. Anyway... bit of a dilemma, but will figure something out. If not... I at least have my copy for buying and pricing.
  4. Pulp grading isn't really much different than comic grading... it's just that one has to adjust to the fact that you aren't going to find much that will grade above an equivalent 6.0.
  5. Easy -- The Shadow (Shiwan-Khan; The Hand) Phantom (that guy in the pith-helmet to the left of the temple) Zorro (that rich pompous landowner guy... er...) Okay. Point made.
  6. It's a common, but dated term. A cowpuncher was just another name for a cowboy in the 1800s... though perhaps used as more of an insult. "No, daughter... I won't let you marry that no-account stone-broke cow-puncher!" "Punching" cows was another term for "herding" them.
  7. Others will be more versed on this era than I. I do know that the larger cultural landscape grew much darker after WW2. Film Noir pretty much began in the post-war era... dark tales in which the hero is set on a path of destruction in which there can be no escape. Comics certainly got darker... crime, horror. Audiences became more cynical after years of war and the new terrors of the atomic age... I think flying folks in tights began to seem silly by comparison. If the writers of super-heroes had thought to mature the medium, as happened in the 60s and beyond, then super-heroes would have continued to thrive. But publishers could only see them as juvenile adventure tales, and I think the very publishers that saw a niche and exploited it to great effect with an all-new genre, were themselves responsible for its collapse, with their refusal to adapt the medium. Compare that with even science-fiction... the difference between Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers of the 1930s, with stories like The Thing and Day the Earth Stood Still after WW2 is immense. The great super-hero innovators of 1938 had lost their touch and become stagnant by the late '40s.
  8. Super-heroes were huge, and that can't be argued. What they did was fill an entire age-niche that for some reason had been unfilled prior... let's say young males 8-13, give or take. For whatever reason, pre-1938 comics were geared primarily to older family readers of newspaper comics. And pulps were not designed for that age group either, with Doc Savage and The Shadow skewing to older teens, and the crime and spicy pulps pretty much adults-only. So there were millions of readers hungry for something that fit their tastes... and super-heroes filled the bill perfectly. But for whatever reason, their original explosion ended up being a fad, and they lost their following big-time post WW2. If DC had not persisted with their half-dozen or so titles 1949-1955, and then attempted to reinvigorate the genre in 1956, they might have died out altogether. The company that invented them was also the last stand for keeping them alive. And super-heroes got a big boost from television in the late '50s and early '60s. Free television killed the market for westerns, romance, comedy, animal-comics, humor, etc. But weekly-TV couldn't mount impressive super-hero and far-flung sci-fi adventures, so those genres began to flourish once again in the only medium that would support them. They dominated comics in the '60s and beyond, and now dominate all pop-culture.
  9. I'm not sure that's entirely true... but sure, for awhile there was a bandwagon effect. But to be fair... most of those titles came from just a few companies that specialized in super-heroes. That was the bulk of DC and Timely's output. Add a few from Quality, Fox, MLJ, and Nedor. But Dell, far and away the largest and most successful publisher of the golden-age, gave them only a few half-hearted attempts before abandoning the genre altogether. If you don't count jungle heroes, which existed long before Superman, Fiction House didn't do them either. Nor did Lev Gleason, or E.C. (other than a few Moongirls), nor Hillman, nor Avon, nor Pines, and on and on. Were these companies just throwing money away? No. They understood that super-heroes were a niche market already saturated by the few companies that specialized in them. Remember-- super-heroes were targeted almost exclusively at children... children a little older than the funny animal market, but younger than the market for westerns, crime stories, sexualized jungle queens, adult adventure yarns like Terry and the Pirates, The Spirit, etc. Golden-age super-heroes biggest influence was on silver-age super-heroes. And that's when the market really took off. GA heroes were hot only for a very short period... approx. 1938-1945... by 1949, most were cancelled, and that's well before the Code put many companies out of business. Even a title like Little Lulu probably outsold any hero title of the period. If you want to truly understand their cultural influence... beyond just the adolescent male comic book market... look at the greatest pop-culture entertainment medium of the age... movies. Super-heroes were relegated to just a few low-budget serials... the basement-level of movie-making. Meanwhile Tarzan (pulp creation) and the Lone Ranger (radio creation) produced dozens of larger-budget movies, as did Sherlock Holmes and Charlie Chan (literature), Zorro (pulps), Philip Marlowe (pulps), etc. It's not as if they couldn't have done big-budget super-hero movies if they thought they'd be popular. Sure, they might look creaky by today's standards, but any studio that could produce Metropolis, Frankenstein, King Kong, The Invisible Man, or Things to Come, could have made a slick serviceable super-hero film. They didn't, because, as popular as super-heroes were, they weren't THAT popular... not beyond their core niche... until much much later.
  10. It's only boring by TODAY'S standards... not by 1938 standards. Again... it's BECAUSE of the popularity of those "boring" comics that DC decided to add more titles. Superman was simply one of many characters in a new anthology title. And he got lucky. If the DC editors had decided to tuck his story in the back and not give him the cover... would he be as famous? Unlikely. And to their credit... S&S were brilliant in creating his look... Superman was designed for the four-color medium with his bright primary-colored costume in a way that wasn't the same for Mandrake or The Phantom. Frankly, the book that changed history more I think was Superman #1, not Action #1. DC took a chance and showed the world that a comic title could sell that was driven by a single character. The newsstand looks boring because it's crowded with multi-panel covers. It turns out there was a demand for stories that ran longer than 8-pages, and it changed the way comics looked and were marketed from that point on.
  11. Precisely. Not to mention, Mad found a way around the Comics Code... a profound innovation in and of itself. It can be reasonably argued that Mad was more influential than any super-hero character after Action #1. To build on the above... it's hard to imagine the underground comix movement would have existed at all without Mad... many early UGs were just Mad-style social parodies with porn added. It also provided continuing work for top artists who otherwise would have been out of work due to the Code.
  12. I don't believe this is true at all. Comics were already successful... DC didn't launch Action because up to then Adventure, More Fun, Famous Funnies, Popular, KIng Comics, etc., were shown to be un-viable! Comics were doing so well they decided to add another title to their publishing schedule. Had Superman not existed, the golden-age might have looked quite different... but would have prevailed nonetheless. Disney and Warner Brothers didn't put out their titles because of super-heroes. Nor did Classics, or True Comics, or Treasure Chest. Jungle comics would still have existed. Most likely Street & Smith would have still brought their flagship titles over to comics. The Phantom and Mandrake and Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers would still have been published. Crime and horror comics would still eventually have made the scene. Because of so many prior influences, even a Batman-like character would probably have come along. Super-heroes did not become the dominate comic book genre until the 1960s. Any attempt to rewrite that history is simply inaccurate.
  13. Here's an idea, just to be provocative if nothing else. If we're clearly going to stay with the term "influential" (and are sticking with golden-age), I'm not entirely certain any super-hero book beyond Action #1 should be on the list. Once Superman is established, all others are simply off-shoots of that genre. A case might be made for Marvel Comics #1, simply because DC and Marvel, to this day, remain the definitive representatives of that genre. Crime Does Not Pay #22 introduces the crime genre to comics, but more than that, it's the genre that caught the attention of Wertham, and ultimately led to the Comics Code (hard to get more influential than that). WDC&S #1 made funny animals into the best-selling single title of the '40s and '50s (though with all of the Disney hardbacks, linen books, Big Little Books, etc., already in print... their move into comics was inevitable and not a big innovative leap for them). Classics, again. Multiple multiple printings over decades... unheard of for any other comics of the time. One could debate the most influential horror comic... though far from the first, if you had to pick one it could be Tales From the Crypt. Mad #1, definitely... 1st successful parody comic, and designed for a bit older audience than most comics of the day. Either Famous Funnies or Carnival of Comics, just for getting the whole modern format rolling... otherwise Action #1 would probably have been either a platinum-age style hardbound or a large format such as New Fun. I'm not sure what would round out the list. There had been dozens of jungle hero novels and pulp stories pre-comics, not to mention Tarzan and The Phantom in newspaper strips... their move to comics books was expected more than influential. Same with romance comics... already popular in newspaper strips. I might add Pep #22, or more likely Archie #1... it introduced the teen-humor genre in a way that seems uniquely comic book. Anyway... haven't spent a huge amount of time pondering it... just tossing out thoughts as they occur.
  14. Of course, some of the most "historically significant and influential" books in comics history aren't comics at all. Without Clark Savage, there is no Clark Kent. Without The Shadow and the Black Bat, there is no Batman. Masked heroes abounded by the dozens (hundreds?) in the pulps long before comics adopted them. Though the format is adored today, comics were simply a way to tell pulpish stories in a way accessible to younger audiences than the pulps were meant for. In this regard, one could argue that the comics that struck out on their own without the pulp influences may have been more significant... as has been mentioned, Classics Illustrated, Walt Disney's Comics & Stories, etc., and indeed, they certainly had larger circulations than many of the super-hero and action-themed comics.