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DARREL HUCKABY: Comic books have come a long way since the ’50s

Darrell Huckaby

Darrell Huckaby

Remember comic books? They were all the rage in the ’50s and ’60s — at least in my house. I liked Superman. What was not to like about Superman? He worked for a newspaper in real life and had two hot women — Lois Lane and Lana Lang — in his life. Sure, Lex Luthor was always plotting to kill him and Perry White was a bit of a pill, but he could fly, for goodness sakes, and every 13-year-old boy who ever bought a DC comic knew how Superman used his X-ray vision when he was off duty. And what red-blooded American male wouldn’t love to have a Fortress of Solitude to hang out in, especially this time of year. It was the original man cave!

My buddy Wayne Penn preferred Batman, although I will never understand why. The dude had a cool car and all that but who’d you rather hang out with — Lois Lane or the Boy Wonder? I rest my case.

There were lots of other comics, too. Marvel had Spiderman, Captain America and the Incredible Hulk, among others. DC, in addition to Super and Bat, had Green Lantern and Metal Men and let’s don’t forget Wonder Woman. I actually met her in college — or at least an extremely attractive imposter, but that’s another story for another day.

Randy Layson liked the Easy Company comics, about Sgt. Rock and his band of World War II brothers. They don’t make soldiers like Rock anymore.

My sister, Myron, liked comic books too and I would read hers when I tired of stories about super heroes who were trying to save the world or soldiers who actually did. She liked Nancy comic books and Dennis the Menace. I liked following the adventures of Nancy and Sluggo, too and still keep up with them in the funny papers, but I have got to tell you, Aunt Fritzi has aged remarkably well and if Clark Kent ever showed up to do a story in her town he might give up on that whole Double L obsession.

Myron also read comic books about two little babies called Sugar and Spike. Sugar was the girl and Spike was the little boy baby. They would “goo goo” and “ga ga” when adults were around but carry on conversations that would put the E-trade baby to shame once they were alone. Yes, I would glance at the comic books about the babies every now and then.

But my sister’s comic book of choice — and I will admit, I liked them, too — was anything from the Archie series. Archie Comics was about a group of teenagers who inhabited the fictional town of Riverdale. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the one in Clayton County, though. Archie and Reggie were pals and they hung out with a goofy guy named Jughead. I think there was a stereotypical dumb jock named Moose, too, but I might be remembering something that didn’t happen. I do that sometimes.

Archie and Reggie were friends with — and romantically involved with, from time to time — Betty and Veronica. Betty was a blond girl-next-door type and Veronica was a spoiled little rich girl with hair so black that they always tinted it with blue streaks. I spent half my life looking for a girl with hair so black that it had blue streaks, but to no avail. Archie and the gang were typical teens who hung out at the malt shop and munched burgers and fries while getting into and out of one scrape after another.

Truth be known I had lost touch with Archie and the gang over the past, I don’t know, 50 years, but they are still around and I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that a lot of us are going to hear a lot about the Riverdale kids soon.

It seems that a year or so ago the publishers of Archie Comics felt compelled to introduce a gay character named Kevin Keller to the Riverdale mix. Welcome to the 21st century? Well guess what, y’all. Next month Kevin, in a flash-forward, is going to tie the knot with an African-American physical therapist named Clay Walker. I ain’t making this up. A comic book for adolescent kids is taking a stance for gay marriage, right there in Betty and Veronica’s hometown. What’s next? Return to Mayberry for Barney and Ernest T’s nuptials? I’m so stuck in the previous century that I haven’t even made up my mind between Ginger and Mary Ann. Thank goodness we didn’t have to throw the professor or Gilligan into the equation! I wonder what Frank Rock would think about all this?

I’m glad that when I was a kid reading comics they weren’t trying to mold my social mores. And to think that my mama got upset when I graduated from Superman to Mad Magazine.

What, me worry? You bet your bippy.

Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.

From: http://www.rockdalecitizen.com/news/2011/dec/22/darrell-huckaby-comic-books-have-come-a-long-way/

VIDEO OF THE DAY: From Superman to Mr. Incredible: GOP candidates pick the …

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IT’S A QUESTION NEARLY AS OLD AS superhero comics themselves: If you could be any crimefighting cartoon character, who would it be? Answering that question when you’re running for higher office, however, takes on loftier levels of would-be import. Because do you really want to be known to all of America as the candidate who longs to be Ant-Man?

Or Aquaman? (Not if you don’t identify as green and eco-friendly.)

Or Robin the Boy Wonder? (Say so and you seem destined to be No.-2 on the ticket, at best.)

Now that telltale question is being posed to Republican candidates who have been glad-handing the good folks of New Hampshire.

Freelance documentary producer and writer Darren Garnick tells Comic Riffs on Wednesday that he has made a video “for fun” in which his tween-aged son, Ari — whom Garnick calls a “superhero fiend” — poses that singular query to the contenders:

If you could be any superhero in the world, WHO would you be?

(Full disclosure: Garnick notes that during the 2008 campaign, he did a project for The Post’s sister outlet Slate, in which he “tried to photograph my daughter with all the candidates.”)

Garnick’s new video is titled: “Republicans in Tights: Behind the Scenes of the ‘Superhero Primary.’ “

The first thing you may notice is that among these human contenders, Superman wins a mortal majority. Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and the pre-suspended Herman Cain all pick the Man of Steel.

A second thing you may notice is that among the men who seek the highest office in D.C., the most popular superhero galaxy is DC. (Among the non-DC Comics candidates: Jon Huntsman likes Spider-Man; Rick Santorum goes Pixar with Mr. Incredible; and Ron Paul apparently doesn’t know who his favorite superhero is.)

Which, when purely playing the odds, means the 2012 general election will shape up as a DC vs. Marvel showdown.

During his 2008 run, President Obama made it known that he was a Spider-Man fan, eventually appearing on a top-selling Marvel issue alongside the webslinger even before he was inaugurated.

The real point, of course, is that naming your favorite superhero is a form of personality litmus test — voters can try to glean what attributes the candidate most identifies with, and what superpowers the contender would most wish for.

“I wanted to take Ari out on the New Hampshire primary campaign trail, which — like Iowa — is the greatest social studies classroom available,” Garnick tells Comic Riffs, “and I knew that having a superhero theme would make it more interesting for him.”

Garnick would also like to hear how one other candidate might answer the big question.

“I’m very curious to hear what Michele Bachmann will say if she makes it back to New Hampshire,” Garnick tells us, noting that he “will be shocked if she has a surprise pick besides Wonder Woman.”

“ There are not as many women heroes to choose from,” he says, “but there are much more than are on people’s radar.”

Which superhero would you pick for different candidates? You can email your picks to comicriffs@washpost.com or via Twitter to @comicriffs.

From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/comic-riffs/post/video-of-the-day-from-batman-to-mr-incredible-gop-candidates-pick-their-favorite-superheroes/2011/12/21/gIQA7Djn9O_blog.html

sports world is turning Bizarro

The evidence is piling up. We are living in a Bizarro Sports World.

Bizarro World is the place that the minds at DC Comics created for their Superman series where everything is upside down or backward or the opposite of what it’s supposed to be.

Bad is good. Ugly is beautiful. Smart is stupid. Republican is Democrat.

OK, nothing in the universe is that Bizarro. But you get the idea.

If you have doubts, consider that only in a Bizarro Sports World …

is John Elway a villain in Denver.

is a quarterback who can’t throw and is operating out of a read-option in the NFL able to make Elway a villain in Denver.

is the Big East Conference where Boise State and San Diego State will play football.

is Tiger Woods so desperate to win that he enters a PGA Tour Fall Series event — and still doesn’t get a victory in an official Tour event for two years in a row.

is a Dream Team in Philadelphia about to get its coach fired.

is Alex Smith an NFL quarterback.

is Joe Paternonot a college football coach.

is the Heisman Trophy in the hands, not of a quarterback from Stanford, but one from Baylor.

See what we mean?

We may soon know positively — or is that negatively? — that we’re living in a Sports Bizarro World.

And it only figures that Superman would be involved.

There is yet another report that the New Jersey Nets are on the verge of completing a trade with Orlando for center Dwight Howard, who lays claim to being the NBA’s Man of Steel.

OK, so the latest report came from a Lakers radio guy who once asked Phil Jackson if the summer heat in Phoenix might affect his team against the Suns in the playoffs.

Jackson noted that he was fairly sure the plan was to play the game inside an air-conditioned US Airways Center, but if it would make the radio guy feel any better he would certainly make sure that everybody was well-hydrated.

Anyway, there is no doubt that the Nets and the Lakers would like to pry the disgruntled Howard out of Orlando.

But only in a Bizarro Sports World does the guy actually prefer the Nets over the Lakers!

And where else but in a backward universe could the Nets have a nucleus that could include point guard Deron Williams, Howard, forward Andrei Kirilenko if he signs as a free agent and/or forward Kris Humphries, should he re-sign with the club?

Yes, Humphries might be a little distraught because more than two months of wedded bliss suddenly came to an end in that whole Kim Car-crash-ian thing.

But his specialty is rebounding, so we believe he will rebound from that, too.

And the idea of the Nets as an NBA power is not too far-fetched when one considers that owner Mikhail Prokhorov is sort of a Russian Mark Cuban, and the Nets will be leaving the swamps of the Meadowlands for the $1 billion Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn for the 2012-13 season.

Meanwhile, such a move by Howard to the Nets would leave the Lakers out in the cold again.

For the first time in recorded history, NBA Commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent a superstar to the Lakers.

Now that’s Bizarro!

Instead, playmaker extraordinaire Chris Paul wound up down the hall with the Clippers.

Suddenly it is plausible that the Lakers will play second fiddle to the Clippers in Tinseltown.

The Clip Joint features Paul, “The Human YouTube” Blake Griffin and “Mr. Big Shot” Chauncey Billups.

And though it was only a preseason game, the Clippers trounced Kobe Bryant and the Lakers on Monday night.

Plus:

Bryant is going through a divorce.

Pau Gasol is likely to sulk after he nearly was dealt for Paul.

Center Andrew Bynum has the knees of an 85-year-old Greg Oden.

Jackson no longer is around to soothe egos having been replaced by Mike Brown, whom we’re pretty sure Kobe hasn’t even invited to a coaches meeting yet.

Yep, what was up could be headed down.

Why, it has become such a Bizarro Sports World, the next thing you’ll be telling us is that the Packers lost and the Colts won on the very same day.

Wait, what?

Reach the Heat Index at 602-444-8271 or bob.young@arizonarepublic.com.

From: http://www.azcentral.com/sports/heatindex/articles/2011/12/20/20111220heat-index-sports-world-bizarro.html

December 20, 2011: Superman Comics Available This Week


Diamond Comics has released the list of comic books and other items on sale this week. Here are the Superman related items in that list…

Available This Week: December 21, 2011.

The following products are expected to ship to comic book specialty stores this week, with all comics also available for digital download. Note that this list is tentative and subject to change. Please check with your retailer for availability.

Click on the magnifying glass icon () next to a comic’s title to view a sneak peek at the pages within.

  • JUSTICE LEAGUE #4
  • SUPERGIRL #4
  • TINY TITANS #47
  • YOUNG JUSTICE #11

  • DC COMICS PRESENTS: THE KENTS #2
  • TINY TITANS – VOL 06: THE TREEHOUSE AND BEYOND TP

  • From: http://www.supermanhomepage.com/news.php?readmore=10685

    DC Comics Relaunch: DC Doubles Down On Rob Liefeld! Deadman Dies? Batman’s …

    Folks going through DC Comics’ February and March 2012 solicits noticed that writer Sterling Gates was nowhere to be found on upcoming issues of Hawk and Dove. It would appear that DC editorial wanted to “go a different way” and had the second half of January 2012?s issues re-written and Sterling’s February 2012 script was tanked all together. And, leading that new way is Rob Liefeld on art chores and writing chores. Here’s some of what Sterling Gates has to say about his time on Hawk and Dove and his partnership with comics luminary Rob Liefeld:

    We laid a lot of foundation in those first few issues, things that can be delved into indefinitely: creating new characters, reintroducing old ones, or looking deeper into the origins of the avatars that power Hank and Dawn.

    Rachel Gluckstern, my editor at DC, phoned me up a couple months ago and said they were interested in taking the book in a different direction. As a result, my script to issue six was spiked, and the back half of issue five was rewritten in order to completely clear the decks for Rob’s run. Rob came in and co-wrote issue #5?s climactic battle with Condor and Swan to help make the transition as smooth as possible.

    I can’t wait to see where Rob takes Hawk and Dove next, either. He’s got a vision for those characters, and hopefully I’ve managed to get enough pieces on the board for him to really dig into their mythology.

    Regardless of what the “elite” fanboys may think, because it still seems to be in-style with the vocal keyboard warriors to bash Rob Liefeld’s work both sight-unseen and after leafing through his projects, DC appears to be freeing Liefeld to be Liefeld. Like with writer Jeph Loeb, Rob Liefeld does big-bang “movie blockbuster” type comic books. They are fun and escapist fantasies. They are comic books on steroids. Its not everyone’s cup of tea nor is Scott Snyder’s Batman, but Liefeld has an audience. And, having Liefeld go virtually solo on Hawk and Dove will allow an unfettered Rob to do what he does best: fun comics (with feet now).

    So, how will things change with Rob Liefeld solo at the wheel? Well, more action, more romance, more intrigue… simply put… “MORE”. Here’s some of what Rob revealed:

    I’ll be bringing more story to Hawk and Dove, and by that I mean better utilizing the 20 pages that each book provides…

    …As to what I will bring to the characters: a greater glimpse into their private lives, more conflict, more romantic friction, more tension but hopefully more laughs as well as more fun…

    … [We’ll see] more self-contained stories that provide them with a greater variety of conflicts and dilemmas. It’s a bit of the menace of the month in the first few issues, pitting them against a variety of nemesis. We have Mr. Hyde and a sorceress in issue 6 and the mystery of The Hunter in issue 7. Issue 8 has a new villain. Each of these menaces provide a unique challenge for our heroes..

    Looks like Hawk and Dove #6 is a new start for the book with Batman coming by to attract new readers to the book. Here’s what else we learned:

    • Personal tragedy is coming for Dawn Granger, Dove’s alter ego, and Hawk will need to be her emotional anchor.
    • When Dove and Batman team-up in Hawk and Dove #6, looks like Hawk and DC’s current Robin team-up and hilarity ensues.
    • The new character on the cover of issue #7 is The Hunter.

    My thoughts on the above in order:

    • So, is the romance between Deadman and Dove over? Does he, um, die? Leave the book? Or does this tragedy Dawn will be dealing with involve someone else from her life?
    • Two hot-heads teaming up with Hank Hall (Hawk) and Damian Wayne (Robin) should be at the very least explosive and in HD tradition, “fun”.
    • I wasn’t sold on The Hunter’s costume, but as we all know this hunter-type character is a comic book archetype and the industry is all about new takes on the archetypes or doing more or emulating winning formulas, e.g. Batman begets Batwing, etc. So, I’m intrigued where Rob will take this and I’m curious who hired The Hunter. BTW, Rob said he was inundated with e-mails asking if The Hunter was related to similarily clad DC character. I’m drawing a blank. Who does The Hunter’s togs resemble in the DC Universe? BTW, Kraven The Hunter isn’t the answer since he belongs to Marvel.

    It’ll be interesting to see who else will pop up in Liefeld’s run on Hawk and Dove. Maybe Superman and the Justice League? Rob has drawn Superman before, but not regularly. DC is taking a calcuated risk on Liefeld and it’ll be interesting to see how the book is doing by the summer of 2012.

    Hawk and Dove is currently in the Top 100. At #90 in November 2011 it outsells Marvel’s Hulk, X-Factor, Avengers Academy, and even DC’s Captain Atom, I Vampire, and other books. So, Hawk and Dove is doing “ok”, but can do better. Is an all-Liefeld book the answer? Time will tell.


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    From: http://insidepulse.com/2011/12/19/dc-comics-relaunch-dc-doubles-down-on-rob-liefeld-deadman-dies-batmans-partner-swap/

    Collectibles and The Big Bang Theory

    Art imitates life and vice versa.

    After realizing his apartment has been burglarized, losing TVs, computers and other valuables, Dr. Sheldon Cooper runs frantically into his bedroom to check to see if his most prized possessions have been stolen. What is he looking for? His comic book collection.

    The story line of the CBS hit sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” follows the antics of three physicists, an engineer and a waitress/wanna-be actress.

    An aspect of their social life is the pursuit of collectibles from “Star Wars” action figures and vintage video games like Ms. Pacman to science fiction movie props and comic books. The characters spend every Wednesday night at their local comic book store and search for additions to their growing collections.

    A recent happening in the world of comic book collecting would have Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and Howard in a tizzy.

    From the celebrated collection of actor Nicolas Cage, the comic book Action Comics No. 1, featuring the first appearance of Superman, sold for a record-setting $2.161 million recently.

    Of course, this is not just any old comic book — it is the Holy Grail of comic books. It is a rare copy in superior condition — receiving a 9.0 grade for quality — and it is one of only 100 copies in existence.

    The Cage sale broke the previous record for the piece of $1.5 million. Cage originally purchased the comic book in 1997 for a mere $150,000.

    Like the storied life of Superman, Cage’s copy of this special comic book is equally fascinating. The famous comic book, part of a collection that included Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics No. 27, was stolen from Cage’s home in 2000. According to reports, Cage’s comic books were displayed in museum quality wall mounted frames in his home.

    While the stolen Detective Comics No. 27 has yet to be recovered, the Action Comics No. 1 was found earlier this year in an abandoned storage locker in Southern California.

    If you have comic books stored around your house, they have value and interest in the sales arena.

    Here are some tips to maintain the value of these comic books from bygone days:

    Don’t handle them too often as the oils from your hands will deteriorate the paper and printing.

    Keep similar comic books with key characters (Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc.) together just as you would any other related set or collectible.

    Protect your comic books in plastic covers, acid free solander storage boxes or museum quality frames.

    Avoid wooden crates and cardboard boxes. Don’t store your comic books in areas where temperature or humidity fluctuate. That means no damp basements and no hot attics.

    Display your comic books and any other printed materials in dark areas as sunlight will fade and devalue them.  

    Judging from this groundbreaking multimillion dollar sale of Action Comics No. 1, it might be time for Dr. Sheldon Cooper to have his comic book collection appraised by an expert. Why, yes I’m available.

    Dr. Lori hosts antiques appraisal events nationwide. For information about your antiques, visit www.DrLoriV.com, follow her on www.facebook.com/doctorlori, or call 888-431-1010.

    From: http://www.courierpress.com/news/2011/dec/18/collectibles-and-the-big-bang-theory/

    Captain America co-creator Joe Simon dead at 98

    Joe Simon at the New York Comic-Con in October. (Charles Sykes / Associated Press)

    Joe Simon, a pioneer figure in American comic books who had a defining career moment in March 1941 when he gave the world a star-spangled superhero named Captain America, has died. He was 98.

    Simon died Wednesday in New York City after a brief illness, according to a statement from his family, and his death adds a solemn final note to the 70th anniversary of his greatest creation, Captain America, who leaped across the big screen this summer with the Marvel Studios film “Captain America: The First Avenger.” That  film grossed $368 million in worldwide box office and earned strong reviews despite the early skepticism about the 21st century prospects of a Roosevelt-era character who looks like a walking American flag.

    Simon created Captain America with Jack Kirby, a titan figure in American comics, and the two would work together for various publishers over several decades. Their shared credit eventually took on an esteemed aura as the medium edged its way from disposable pulp confection to something more ambitious and a sort of monthly American mythology.

    The American superhero concept began in 1938 with Superman, the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, and while Simon and Kirby followed their lead they also brought a different energy to the men-in-tights genre. Mark Evanier, author of 2008 Kirby biography “Kirby, King of Comics,” said the duo became a brand of more renown than the masked characters they put on the covers.

    “Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were the first superstar creators of comics,” Evanier said Thursday. “Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were hailed because of Superman, but Simon and Kirby were hailed because of Simon and Kirby.  They didn’t just have one or two great ideas.  They were the go-to guys for the next thing in comics.”

    The pair had notable creations such as the Newsboy Legion, the Fighting American, Blue Bolt, the Boy Commandos and the Challengers of the Unknown, but it was Captain America — a shield-carrying super-soldier created in a lab by American high-tech but defined by earnest patriotism and integrity — that would resonate most.

    “I was 24 when I first started creating  Captain America, “ Simon told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2005. ”It’s been a guardian angel hanging over me my whole life. Everywhere I went — in the service or wherever — I wasn’t  Joe Simon; I was  Captain America.  It was like a cloud hanging over me, but a good cloud. I loved it.”

    He was born Hymie Simon in Rochester, N.Y., in October 1913, and as a youngster he was drawn to journalism. Instead he ended up in the scruffy, deadline-driven comic book business that scratched out a spot for itself in New York in the 1930s and ’40s. His first collaboration with Kirby came in 1940 with a hero called Blue Bolt but the pair struck gold the next year with Captain America — who was punching Adolf Hitler on newsstands months before Pearl Harbor and was a quick hit for Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel Comics.

    Simon, who was both a writer and artist, came up with the concept of the red, white and blue character, but it was Kirby — by most appraisals the most important comics artist ever — who created the dynamic artwork in the early issues.

    After the success of Captain  America, Simon and Kirby followed opportunity over to DC Comics, the publisher of Superman and Batman, where they were working on titles such as Boy Commandos and Sandman. Both went into the military in 1943, and on their return ended up at Harvey Comics on titles including Boy Explorers and Stuntman. In 1954, the pair launched the creator-owned Fighting American, a clear conceptual descendant of their most noted character.

    Joe Simon, left, and Stan Lee share an embrace at New York Comic-Con in 2008. Jerry Robinson, with white beard and smile, is over Lee’s shoulder. (Photo from David Uslan)

    Kirby would move on in the 1960s and with Stan Lee he would find the next major partner in his career, creating the Fantastic Four, Thor, Hulk , the X-Men, Iron Man and others. Simon founded and edited Sick magazine, a publication that took the model of MAD magazine and ran from 1960-1980.  He also packaged educational and political comics for various agencies, mostly in New York, and occasionally dipped back into the comics world, with oddball, informed-by-the-era efforts such as Brother Power, the Geek and Prez.

    Those comics were commercial fizzles, but they were fascinating to readers such as Neil Gaiman, the Newbery Medal-winning author of  “The Graveyard Book” and the writer behind the DC Comics epic “The Sandman.”

    “What attracted me to Simon’s stories was how unlike anyone else’s they were, how full of life,” Gaiman wrote in a 2010 introduction to “The Simon Kirby Superheroes” collection from Titan Books. “He created strange villains, part cartoon, part caricature, part embodiment of whatever he wished to talk about. While the trends in comics were toward realism in writing, Joe Simon marched in the other direction, creating his own reality … the oddness of Joe Simon’s work is where it gets its power.”

    Earlier this year, Simon attended the premiere of the “Captain America” film and in the surge of press attention he spoke often about Kirby, who died in 1994. For a younger generation of creators — such as Ed Brubaker, who has been the award-winning writer for Captain America for the last seven years — Simon and Kirby are titan figures.

    “Joe and Jack Kirby created Captain America at a time when the U.S. was not in World War II yet, and had to contend with pro-fascist Americans giving them death-threats,” Brubaker said Thursday. “I always think about that when I work on the book, the  origins of both the character and the comic. Those were two brave guys  creating what would be a classic character, who has definitely stood the  test of time while other ‘flag-wearing’ heroes haven’t.”

    Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, praised Simon as a dreamer whose work echoes through the years and beyond the pages of vintage comics.

    “Today we are saddened by the loss of Joe Simon, a man whose iconic Captain America is still inspiring and entertaining audiences 70 years later,” Feige said in a statement.  ”It was an honor and a privilege getting to know Mr. Simon and his family during the production of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger.’ We have no doubt that Cap, and Joe’s legacy, will live on for many more decades and we are proud that he was able to be a part of last year’s [making of the] feature film and we were humbled by his enjoyment of the movie.”

    The news of Simon’s death took on an extra layer of somberness because of the timing — the comic book industry and students of its four-color history were still dealing with the death last week of Jerry Robinson, who was a key figure in the early days of Batman comics and a key creative force in the introduction of seminal characters such as the Joker, Robin the Boy Wonder, Two-Face and Bruce Wayne’s butler, Alfred. Simon and Robinson both lived long enough to see their creations reach the silver screen with new levels of ambition in the 21st century, but both came up in a scrappy era with business arrangements that denied them the huge paydays that could come now for creators of a Hollywood brand.

    Feige added: “Together Joe Simon and Jack Kirby created one of the most iconic superheroes in comic book history and losing Joe is definitely the end of an era.”

    Simon is survived by two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.

    – Geoff Boucher

    RECENT AND RELATED

    Jerry Robinson, the Joker and Robin creator, dead at 89

    Captain America anniversary salute: 70 years, 70 covers

    Flashback: Read a Simon and Kirby comic from 1946

    Jack Kirby, Marvel’s abandoned hero

    Marvel flashback: Classic ads from the Golden Age

    Gene Colan, comic-book artist, dead at 84

    Harvey Pekar, ‘American Splendor’ author, dies at 70

    Archie Comics stalwart John D’Agostino dead at 81

    ‘Empire Strikes Back’ director Irvin Kershner dead at 87

    Moebius: The Hero Complex interview

    From: http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2011/12/16/captain-america-joe-simon/

    Joe Simon dies at 98; co-creator of Captain America

    Joe Simon, a comic book industry pioneer whose defining career moment came in the dark days of March 1941 when he delivered a star-spangled superhero named Captain America, has died. He was 98.

    Simon died Wednesday night in New York City after a brief illness, according to a statement from his family, and his death adds a solemn final note to the 70th anniversary of his greatest creation, Captain America, who leaped across the big screen this summer with the Marvel Studios film “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The film grossed $369 million in worldwide box office and earned strong reviews despite early skepticism about the 21st century pop culture potential of a Roosevelt-era character who looks like a walking American flag.

    Simon created Captain America with Jack Kirby, a key figure in American comics, and they would work together for various publishers as comic books went from quirky confections to American mythology.

    The American superhero concept began in 1938 with Superman, the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, but Simon and Kirby brought a different contribution to the genre, not unlike the way songwriter Chuck Berry would later add more ambition to the lyrics of the young form of rock ‘n’ roll. Mark Evanier, author of the 2008 Kirby biography “Kirby, King of Comics,” said the signature duo became more of a brand than the masked men they put on the covers of their comics.

    “Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were the first superstar creators of comics,” Evanier said Thursday. “Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster were hailed because of Superman, but Simon and Kirby were hailed because of Simon and Kirby. They didn’t just have one or two great ideas. They were the go-to guys for the next thing in comics.”

    The pair had memorable creations such as the Newsboy Legion, the Fighting American, Blue Bolt, the Boy Commandos and the Challengers of the Unknown, but it was Captain America — a shield-carrying super-soldier created in a lab by American technology but defined by the country’s earnest patriotism and integrity — that would resonate most.

    “I was 24 when I first started creating Captain America, ” Simon told the Philadelphia Daily News in 2005. “It’s been a guardian angel hanging over me my whole life. Everywhere I went — in the service or wherever — I wasn’t Joe Simon; I was Captain America. It was like a cloud hanging over me, but a good cloud. I loved it.”

    He was born Hymie Simon in Rochester, N.Y., in 1913, and as a youngster he was drawn to journalism. Instead, he ended up in the scruffy, deadline-driven comic book business that popped up in New York City in the 1930s. His first collaboration with Kirby came in 1940 with a hero called Blue Bolt, but they struck gold with Captain America — who was punching Adolf Hitler on newsstands months before Pearl Harbor. It turned out to be a quick hit for Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel Comics.

    Simon, who was both a writer and artist, came up with the concept of the red, white and blue character, but it was Kirby — by most appraisals the most important comics artist ever — who created the dynamic artwork in the early issues.

    After the success of “Captain America,” Simon and Kirby followed opportunity over to DC Comics, the publisher of Superman and Batman, where they worked on titles such as “Boy Commandos” and “Sandman.”

    Both went into the military in 1943. On their return. they ended up at Harvey Comics and toiled on titles including “Boy Explorers” and “Stuntman.” In 1954, the pair launched the creator-owned “Fighting American,” a clear conceptual descendant of their most noted character — a hero with a shield and a costume Betsy Ross would love.

    In the 1960s, Kirby began working with a new partner, Stan Lee, and they created the Fantastic Four, Thor, Hulk, the X-Men, Iron Man and others.

    Simon founded and edited Sick magazine, a publication that took the model of MAD magazine and ran from 1960 to 1980. He also packaged educational and political comics for various agencies, mostly in New York, and occasionally dipped back into the comics world, with oddball efforts like 1968’s hippie hero “Brother Power, the Geek” and 1974’s “Prez,” about a teenager who becomes president.

    Those comics were strange, politically informed and commercial fizzles, but they were fascinating to readers such as Neil Gaiman, the Newbury Medal-winning author of “The Graveyard Book” and the writer behind the DC Comics epic “The Sandman.”

    “What attracted me to Simon’s stories was how unlike anyone else’s they were, how full of life,” Gaiman wrote in 2010 in a foreword to “The Simon Kirby Superheroes” collection from Titan Books. “He created strange villains, part cartoon, part caricature, part embodiment of whatever he wished to talk about. While the trends in comics were toward realism in writing, Joe Simon marched in the other direction, creating his own reality…. The oddness of Joe Simon’s work is where it gets its power.”

    Earlier this year, Simon attended the premiere of the Captain America film and in the surge of media attention he spoke often about Kirby, who died in 1994. For a younger generation of creators — such as Ed Brubaker, who has been the award-winning writer for Captain America for the last seven years — Simon and Kirby are titan figures.

    “Joe and Jack Kirby created Captain America at a time when the U.S. was not in World War II yet and had to contend with pro-fascist Americans giving them death threats,” Brubaker said Thursday. “I always think about that when I work on the book, the origins of both the character and the comic. Those were two brave guys creating what would be a classic character, who has definitely stood the test of time while other ‘flag-wearing’ heroes haven’t.”

    Simon is survived by two sons, three daughters and eight grandchildren.

    geoff.boucher@latimes.com

    From: http://www.latimes.com/news/obituaries/la-me-joe-simon-20111216,0,1062400.story

    Sacramento’s booming comic book business- part 1

    The digital age revolutionized the way most people consume print products. But for comic book enthusiasts, the comic book business has remained relatively untouched by the swing toward digital products, said area retailers.

    The Sacramento Press hit the streets to sneak a peek at Sacramento’s comic book industry- visiting six stores. Each business has carved out its own niche – as part of a community of stores that support each other – in a city with a surprising number of comic book retailers.

    A-1 Comics
    5361 Auburn Blvd.
    331-9203

    Hours:
    Monday through Saturday 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    Sunday noon – 6 p.m.



    The vault at A-1 Comics
    (Image by: Kim Reyes)



    Image by: Kim Reyes


    A-1 Comics has been in business for nearly a quarter of a century. It’s Sacramento’s largest comic book store, said Manager Jared Rudy.

    The store specializes in hard-to-find classics and back issues, but also sells tabletop games, graphic novels, anime and manga, toys and figurines. The store is housed in an old bank building, and the bank vault is used to store the most valuable comics.

    “We have a terrific back issue section, and everyone here is a specialist in something different,” Rudy said.

    The clientele is primarily male, but Rudy said he sees more females in the store than ever before. They are mostly interested in anime and manga – both types of Japanese comics.

    One customer travels from Reno each month, because he said he can’t find any good retailers in Nevada, said Rudy.

    A-1 also has an online eBay store where it sells a number of rare collectibles, including a “Fantastic Four” comic featuring the Hulk from 1971 that is listed for $2,750 and a “Turok: Son of Stone” book, printed in 1954, for just under $5,000.

    Store management uses a pricing guide to determine the value of a single comic or a collection, and Rudy said the store is successful because of a reputation for being honest and fair.

     

    Big Brother Comics

    1722 J St.
    441-6461

    Hours:
    Monday through Saturday 11 a.m – 8 p.m.
    Sunday 11 a.m – 6 p.m.



    Image by: Kim Reyes



    A small section of the collection at Big Brother Comics
    (Image by: Kim Reyes)

    Big Brother Comics spent its first year in the K Street Mall but made the move to J Street approximately five years ago. The store focuses on graphic novels, Marvel and DC comics, but also has a significant following from customers who play “Magic” – a card game most often compared to the “Dungeons Dragons” fantasy role-playing game.

    Manager Christopher Alvarez said recent superhero films have revitalized the industry and have developed a curiosity for new comic book fans.

    At 32, Alvarez said he’s a good representative of their average customer. The comic book business hit a boom in the ’90s, and that generation continues to support the business. Alvarez added that for many young people, it’s a great way to spark an interest in reading.

    Alvarez said digital comics are relatively new and have yet to be embraced by comic book enthusiasts, but they can be purchased for e-readers.

    “Our customers are interested in a physical product,” Alvarez said, adding that they receive new books each Wednesday, and that brings regular customers in on a weekly basis.

     

    Empire’s Comics Vault
    1120 Fulton Ave. Suite K
    482-8779

    Hours:
    Monday 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
    Tuesday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    Wednesday 9 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Thursday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Friday 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
    Saturday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
    Sunday noon – 5 p.m.



    Some of the comic books sold at Empire’s Comics Vault from local artists and writers
    (Image by: Kim Reyes)



    One of the comics printed at ECV Press, written by Ben
    Schwartz

    (Image by: Kim Reyes)

    Empire’s Comics Vault, owned by Ben Schwartz, offers an opportunity for local artists and comic book writers to break into the comic book business. In addition to his storefront that sells mostly modern, American comic books, Schwartz operates a small publishing company, ECV Press, that prints comic books created locally. The website offers information about how to become an artist or writer with the company as well as links to free digital comic books.

    “He draws together the local community of artists and writers because he’s very passionate about it,” said Ronnie Ledesma, marketing consultant for the store.

    Ledesma said Schwartz sets his business apart from others through a podcast about comics, pop culture and comic-related films. Schwartz also hosts the Sacramento Comic Book Creators group every Tuesday at his store, where artists and writers can hone their skills. 

    The store carries a large stock of back-issue comics and graphic novels, but staff refer most tabletop gamers to Great Escape Games

    Empire’s Comics Vault has an interesting mix of customers. Mick Martin, a Sacramento blues musician, is a frequent customer, and members from the local band Seeker are regulars as well. Film students from Natomas recently covered the relaunch of DC Comics – and it’s all because of the the community Schwartz has created with his business, Ledesma said. 

    For Ledesma, his favorite comic book series is “Fantastic Four.”

    “When I started reading, it was very accessible,” Ledesma said. “ ‘Superman’ was too cheery, and ‘Batman’ was took dark. ‘Fantastic Four’ was just right.”

     

    World’s Best Comics and Toys
    2608 Watt Ave.
    973-8973

    Hours:
    Monday and Tuesday noon – 7 p.m.
    Wednesday 10 a.m. – 7 pm.
    Thursday through Saturday noon – 7 p.m.
    Sunday noon – 6 p.m.



    Image by: John Hernandez



    Image by: John Hernandez

    World’s Best Comics and Toys, has been in its current location since 1999. The store has been in two other locations. The original downtown location, opened in 1985.

    “I have always liked reading, and I always liked artwork,” store owner Dave Downey, 49, said. “This is a combination of the two.”

    Downey said that when he was an 8-year-old kid reading comic strips, he would get impatient because of the short stories in the strip, which prompted him to transition to reading comic books.

    He said that in his store, Marvel and DC comics are the bestsellers. Marvel comic titles such as “Spiderman,” “Fantastic Four” and “The Avengers,” and DC comic titles such as “Batman,” “Superman” and “Wonder Woman,” which are all superhero stories, are some of the titles from the two main comic book publishers.

    A lot of people, he said, know the characters of the DC and Marvel comics because of the movies made about them. Despite the popularity of the superhero characters in mainstream movies, people who do not read the comic books are often surprised to find that comic books are still in print, Downey said.

    “You do yourself a disservice if you just zero in only on Marvel and DC,” Downey said. “You get a lot more variety if you also read independent.”

    The store also carries comic books from independent publishers such as Image, Darkhorse and IEW, and since they are creator-owned, produces very individualistic styles of art and storytelling, Downey said.

    Kathleen Partington, a 26-year-old customer at the store, said she reads mainly titles from DC comics and independent titles from Vertigo and Image. “Wonder Woman” was the first comic book she read. Partington said that she likes the store because it focuses mainly on comic books and keeps back issues of old titles.

    “A lot of the unique things laying around here jar people’s memories, (and) give people a tinge of nostalgia when they come in,” Downey said.

    Besides comic books, the store sells Japanese-imported toys, action figures, classic lunch pails and vintage toys.

    The oldest of the vintage toys he has for sale is a Felix the Cat toy from the 1920s.

    The store also buys used collectible toys and comic books.

    He said that although he carries a lot of other items in the store, it focuses on the comic book collecting community. It also carries graphic novels.

    Although superhero-themed comic books are the type of stories most of his customers buy, Downey said he also sells action and adventure, western, romance, comedies and horror-themed comic books. He said the “Sonic the Hedgehog” comic is very popular with his younger audience.

    “There is something for everybody,” he said.

    Manga, Japanese comic books, are also available in the store, such as “Naruto” and, “Sailor Moon I.”

    He said that although most of his customers are mid-20s to mid-40s men, 50 percent of his customers who buy Manga are women.

    The store also offers a comic saver service, where customers make lists of comic book titles they like, and when those titles arrive at the store, they are tagged with the customers’ names and are ready to be picked up every Wednesday at 10 a.m. The store will also order a comic book for the customer if it is not in stock.

    Comic book collecting supplies are also available, such as bags, boards, boxes and title dividers.

    Jump to part 2

    From: http://www.sacramentopress.com/headline/61363/Sacramentos_booming_comic_book_business_part_1

    COMICS: March Solicits For All Of DC’s Superman Group Titles

    ACTION COMICS #7

    Written by GRANT MORRISON. Art by RAGS MORALES and RICK BRYANT. Cover by RAGS MORALES.
    Metropolis has been captured! To save it, Superman must push the limits of his nascent powers as never before! Aboard the ship that has the city captive, The Man of Steel finds an important tool that may help him defeat Metal-zero and his boss! And as Superman fights foes in the sky, Steel must do what he can to protect those still in danger on the ground in a backup story by Sholly Fisch and Brad Walker!


    SUPERMAN #7
    Written by KEITH GIFFEN and DAN JURGENS. Art by DAN JURGENS and JESUS MERINO. Cover by IVAN REIS and JOE PRADO.
    The start of an insanely epic arc from the new writing team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens! New love interests, new roommates, and a new foe: the wicked Helspont! What does this monster want with Superman, and how does it all connect to the Daemonites?


    SUPERBOY #7
    Written by SCOTT LOBDELL. Art by R.B. SILVA and ROB LEAN. Cover by SHANE DAVIS.
    Superboy’s come back to N.O.W.H.E.R.E. with vengeance on his mind – but Rose Wilson is waiting for him. Right from the start, she was the one meant to bring him down when he went out of control – and this fight is going to be out of control! What can one woman with swords do against the most powerful teenager in the world? You – and Superboy – will be very surprised indeed!


    SUPERGIRL #7
    Written by MICHAEL GREEN and MIKE JOHNSON. Art and cover by MAHMUD ASRAR.
    It’s Supergirl versus the Worldkillers! But who are they, and where did they come from? What is their connection to Krypton? More important, can the Girl of Steel stop them before they make good on their names and destroy Earth?

    For Batman Group Solicits Click here.
    For Justice League Group Silicits Click here.


    Don’t forget to pick them all when as ACTION COMICS #7 goes on sale March 7, SUPERMAN #7 goes on sale March 28, SUPERBOY #7 goes on sale March 14 and SUPERGIRL #7 goes on sale March 21.


    From: http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/SpiderGeek/news/?a=51163

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