By Beau Smith
This week I’d like to pay some tribute to some comic books from my misspent youth and my personal collection. Most of these comics don’t especially get put on the “Most Important Comics of All Time” list, but, you know, they’re important to me because they carry a lot of fun and even more memories.
I share these with you because you’re my friends ? say you are, even if you’re not – you gotta be if you’re reading this column; hell, I can’t even get my own family to read it, so, I figure only my true friends, “The Knuckleheads” read it. That makes me smile.
My personal comic book collection is not exactly run of the mill. It’s a bit quirky. Sure, I’ve got good runs of what most people my age have, but?I’ve always prided myself, even as a kid, to pick up comics that were just a little weird or different. Today, I’m gonna share some of those quirky comics, along with some comics that may be your own collection.
DC Comics 1957
My enjoyment for the Blackhawks goes back to my dad. He used to read the Blackhawks comics when he was a kid and in high school. He used to tell me how he and his buddies would “play” Blackhawk and each session began with a fist-fight to see who got to be Blackhawk. That seemed only fair to me.
This particular issue was loaded with action. Sometimes with Golden and Silver Age DC comics you didn’t always get a lot of really well done action. This issue was an exception. It’s packed with action. Killer Shark is the main villain, and he comes riding into pain town in his giant, mechanical killer whale, as you can see on the cover. Just about every page is filled with good guy/bad guy hate. There’s no mutual respect – they just go at it and go at it hard. Fists fly, machine guns spit out a swarm of metal-jacketed justice, and lots of stuff explodes. Even the ads in this comic are manly; there’s a machine gun with tri-pod, Daisy has a nice ad for “Guns Of The West Shootin’ Outfits”, and you can even buy a large cardboard submarine. Find some fun for yourself and hunt down this issue.
Thrill-O-Rama Presents-Pirana: Deadliest Creature in All The World #3
Harvey Thriller Comics 1966
Comic book insanity at it’s very best. I remember finding this hidden gem at Richard’s Drug Store in Westmoreland. I had no idea this comic existed until that cold December day in 1966. This comic was written and drawn with so much fun it still makes me smile all these many years later. Let’s run down the characters in this issue:
Brainstorm: Back from a watery grave crackling up new trouble for Pirana.
The Human Anchor: A massive mess of monstrous muscle, he takes his orders from Brainstorm.
Murderina Mermaid: The most complex machine ever developed ? mainly because she’s a woman!
Chief Ooz: The insidious scientist of Marine Paradise and his porpoise with a deadly purpose!
Also…The incredible PiranaPlane and the ever popular Bara and Cuda!
Come on…Pirana, the super hero of the deep seas has two sidekicks that are Baracudas! The craziness even invades the letters column where the characters of the book answer the reader’s letters. The art was strangely different yet mesmerizing, the characters were like nothing I had read before, and it even had a Batman Aurora ad on the back cover. As a kid I read and re-read this book over and over trying to wrap my head around it. I always wondered who wrote and drew the book as well as what were they thinking? Whatever it was, I liked it.
Amazing Spider-Man #59
Marvel Comics 1967
The cover blurb told me that the Brainwasher was gonna be the story’s bad guy. That was a new one for me, so my 12 cents as spent for this issue. It didn’t hurt that it showed Spider-Man jaw-jackin’ two thugs and the ever shapely Mary Jane Watson was dancing on stage – the first appearance by Mary Jane on a cover.
The other main attraction for me was that John Romita, Sr., did the pencils and my art hero, Don Heck inked the issue. The John Romita era was my favorite of the Spider-Man timeline. I enjoyed the storylines during this period by Stan Lee and truly felt that the mid-’60s were his prime. The issue was the perfect mix of soap opera, action and story twists.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1
Tower Comics 1965
Back in the mid-1960’s, finding any Tower Comics was a red letter day for me in my area -you can even see on the scan where I marked the date I bought the issue. I LOVED the T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and any related books. They had former Marvel and DC artists like Wally Wood, Gil Kane and others whose presence always guaranteed superior story telling. The characters were the most original since Stan Lee and the Marvel gang invented The Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and others at Marvel. The T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents stories were also filled with a cool James Bond-style feel that seemed a little more adult that the other comics in the spinner rack. The art by Wally Wood in this issue is just incredible. The mood and the movement is all there. You can never go wrong with a traditional Tower Comics T.H.U.N.D.E.R Agents comic.
Tales To Astonish #91
Marvel Comics 1966
This particular issue was one of my true moments of smart thinking. I walked into the supermarket with a quarter and a penny in my pocket. I was gonna buy two comic books that day. I ran to the shelf where the comic books were displayed and was semi-disappointed to find that I either had the good comics that they had on display or just flat out didn’t want the “Girl” comics that they had left. It was frustrating.
I decided to thumb through the rows of comics to see if by some chance there was one I missed. I’m glad I did because I found this issue behind the issue of Sgt. Fury that I had bought the week before. My eyes popped at seeing this great slobberknocker of a cover by Gil Kane. It featured the Hulk and the Abomination squaring off on the cover ready to lay down some serious hurt on each other. I leafed through the issue and saw that not only was The Hulk story gonna be good, but there was a Sub-Mariner story with incredible Bill Everett art! So what did I do? I not only bought the issue I also bought the other copy of issue #91 they had. I took them home, read and reread one copy and put the other copy in a cardboard envelope and never touched it again until a few years ago when I bagged and boarded it. It looks just like the day I bought it. How it stayed so nice all these years of moving I’ll never know. Even the issue I read a bunch of times still looks great. It still boggles my mind that 45 years later and I’ve only touched the comic twice. What a weirdo I am.
Okay, I hope you enjoyed my sharing. I like to think of it as one comic book fan talking to another. I hope that’s what it was for you as well.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Dynamite #1
1953 Comic Media
Cover Art by Don Heck.
As most of your regular Knuckleheads know, artist Don Heck was a personal friend and art hero for me. He never failed to entertain me as an artist and make me smile as a friend. This is a truly manly issue of action adventure from the 1950s, when comics still had hair on their chest. Don not only did the cover, he also did a great interior story called “Blackout” that had some very tough Steeplejacks throwing fists high above the city with a nice story twist and lesson that sticks with you. Don’s art on this story is amazing and you can see that Noel Sickles and Milton Caniff were his heroes and influenced Don’s art. Great stuff!
Busted Knuckles Classic Babe of the Week: Yvonne Romain
When they coined the phrase “Buxom Beauty” you know they had actress Yvonne Romain in mind. She was also on the minds of a lot of boys that sat in the movie theatre to see one of the best werewolf movies ever, Curse of the Werewolf.
Yvonne was the reason I took my only interest in math, that’s because she had a 38-22-36 figure. Those numbers always add up for me.
Yvone has dark, exotic looks and big beautiful….eyes. She starred in a series of great horror movies such as Corridors of Blood, Circus of Horrors and Devil Doll. She’s British, but was always playing Spanish and Italian maidens in the movies. Most of all, she’s a class act!
Before I sign off this week, I wanted all you to be aware that my Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars graphic novel is doing very well since its release and is still selling quite well for retailers and books stores. The reviews have been more than kind and there’s some entertainment buzz going on that I should be able to tell you about very soon.
So now I’d like to let you know that IDW Publishing is doing something different and cool with Wynonna Earp. In May 2011, IDW is releasing Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars as a four issue mini-series.
That’s right, we’re breaking the graphic novel down into four issues for new readers to catch on to the first comic book battle between Yeti and Bigfoot. In case you didn’t know, I created and wrote the story and Enrique Villagran did the art, with Kris Carter coloring the series.
This’ll be a fun chance for everyone to experience Wynonna Earp: The Yeti Wars in a format they can roll up and stick in their back pocket. I sure hope you join on board for this action-packed, light-hearted series.
The Flying Fist Ranch
Prove your manhood by visiting Beau at the Flying Fists Forum!