In early 1938 Action Comics no. 1 was published and a new genre of entertainment was born – the comic book had arrived. Although comics, in one shape or another, had been around for over three years it took this comic to cement the industry and create the first superhero and an American icon: Superman. Written and drawn by two Cleveland youngsters, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, the comic was published by National Allied Publications (later DC Comics). Action Comics was an instant success: the first issue sold 130,000 copies and within three years Superman comics would be selling over 1.5 million copies a month. Continue reading Superman: The High-Flying History of America’s Most Enduring Hero by Larry Tye
The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s
Foreword: Power Comics
In 1972 Marvel Comics created a UK division to oversee the publication of reprints of its highly successful American titles. As there was no reliable distribution network in place in the UK copies of original Marvel comics were notoriously difficult to find, so the company believed that setting their own UK based subsidiary to oversee distribution was the best way to go. Continue reading Power Comics
The history of Marvel UK in the 1970s
In the early ’70s Marvel launched a series of black and white weekly comics that featured reprints of comics previously published in the States. Most of those reprints featured Marvels biggest selling characters – Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, The Avengers, Iron Man, Thor, etc. – and were printed on cheap newspaper stock and sold for pennies. Many of those weekly reprint editions would feature one of the original US comics printed in its entirety with two or more support strips 6-8 pages in length. They were hugely successful and I’ve no doubt they helped create an entire generation of British comic book fans. Continue reading Rampage Monthly (Marvel UK)
Jack Kirby. King Kirby. King.
It’s a testament to Jack Kirby‘s lasting legacy to the comic book industry that just the epitaph ‘King’ is enough to identify him and the kind of comic with which he is synonymous. Kirby’s influence on the medium cannot be understated – he was present at the birth of the comic book industry in 1938 (the Golden Age) and he was one of the prime architects at it’s rebirth in the early sixties (the Silver Age). In a career spanning over 40 years he almost single-handedly created the visual lexicon of the comics medium, imbuing it with a dynamism, excitement and energy not seen before and he was instrumental in transforming the funny books from throw away pulp reprints to an art form in it’s own right. There isn’t an artist or writer working in the field today who doesn’t owe him a debt of gratitude, whether they know so or not. Continue reading Kirby, King of Comics (2008)
After graduating from London’s Central School of Art in 1974, Lincolnshire born artist Brian Bolland quickly gravitated towards the comics industry. A firm fan from an early age Bolland grew up on a steady diet of DC stories, with Green Lantern and The Flash being favourites. He spent a couple of years working on such diverse assignments as Powerman (an Nigerian published superhero comic) and House of Hammer magazine as well as illustrations for various fanzines and a short stint on Syd Jorden’s Jeff Hawke daily newspaper strip. In 1977 he came to the attention of UK publisher IPC who were on the lookout for artists for their proposed new weekly science fiction comic 2000AD. His first work for the title was the cover to Prog (issue) 11 and, after a few more covers, he was commissioned to draw the comics most popular character: Judge Dredd.
Corpse on the Imjin! And other stories by Harvey Kurtzman
When I first heard that Fantagraphics had acquired the rights to the EC Comics archive I was initially a little wary. Over the last few decades there have been several attempts to reprint the EC library in various different formats culminating with Gemstone Publishings short lived plan to reprint all the comics in their entirety, with each hardback volume containing 6 entire issues. This reprint series, which would have included all the classic EC titles – including Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Weird Science amongst others – stalled after only a dozen or so releases. Continue reading Corpse on the Imjin!
Over the past six or seven years there has been a welcome boom in the number of high quality, hard cover art books focusing on comic book artists. I suspect the profusion of superhero movies is probably partially responsible, but whatever the reasons I hope the trend continues. Continue reading The Art of John Byrne (1980)
The Chronicles of Judge Dredd was a high quality reprint series first released by Titan Books (the publishing arm of the Forbidden Planet comic shop chain) in the early ’80s.