Up to the 80’s it seemed that the production values for comics were stuck with standard newsprint processes. Then it seemed that DC and Marvel started experimenting with all sort of increased production values. I remember Mando and Baxter paper, a new coloring process that was extremely bright and other improvements along the way. Just curious what was driving these improvements (other than the obvious desire to increase profits) in the printing process? Were there just massive innovations going on in the printing world that the comic world could take advantage of or was it something else? I’d also be interested in what other improvements were experimented with.
— Philip Rutledge (email@example.com)
One of the prime reasons for the increase in quality of the books was the growth of the direct market. By the early 80s, newsstand sales of comics were in the 25-30% range. That meant that the company printed three or four copies to sell one, trashing the unsold ones. So, if it cost 6c to print a copy, the actual cost of a sold copy was 18-24c.
With the emergence of the direct market, the companies printed only copies they knew would be sold. They could spend extra money for better paper and higher quality printing but it was still a lower cost per copy sold.
The improved quality of printing also prompted the search for better color separations, resulting in the computerized coloring that exists today. (You can find a history of color separations in a series of my archived columns. Scroll to the bottom of the purple box on the right, click on “More” at the very bottom of it, then scroll way down on the list.) It also resulted in all those gimmicky innovations of the 90s (holograms, foil embossing, die-cuts, etc.).
By the way, that extremely bright coloring was the result of Flexographic printing, one of the failed experiments of the comics printing revolution.
On the double-sided white backing boards, where one side is matte and one side is shiny, which side is “acid free”? Is it one or the other, or is it both sides? There has been intense debate on this in comic message boards with people about to throw down over it. I figure who better to answer this than the ANSWER MAN!
— Jeff Ryan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The entire board (both sides and all the fibers in between) is acid-free. You can put them in with the books any way you’d like. One suggestion, however, if one side of the board has any printing on it, face that side away from the book, thereby eliminating any chance of ink transfer.
The pre-Crisis Superman / Clark Kent always wore the same blue suit, white shirt, red tie. My question is, where was it stored when he turned into Superman, and how did he managed to keep it from wrinkling? I know the answer, Bob, do you?
I LOVED your column when you did it for DC, and I’m glad to see you’re still around.
— Rick Gendron (email@example.com)
Of course I know the answer, Rick. He compressed it really tightly and put it in a pouch inside his cape. The clothing was treated with a special chemical that kept it from wrinkling, but the chemical also affected the colors of Clark’s clothing, which is why he always had a blue suit. (It worked slightly differently when Clark was a boy; he had blue pants and a red sweater back then.
Were there ever any annuals from the 1990’s NOMAD series written (for the most part) by Fabian Nicieza?
— Tyson Thorp (firstname.lastname@example.org)
While Fabian’s extensive credits include virtually all issues of NOMAD, I don’t find information for any Annuals in the series by him or anyone else.
Did Batman ever kiss Catwoman in comics history before the “Hush” story line ?
Well, the Earth-2 (pre-Crisis) Batman certainly must have. He married her and together they were the parents of the Huntress.
Why did the Avengers-Justice League of America crossover event of the 1980s fail to appear?
— Dean Webb (email@example.com)
Because it never was finished…until now! The first of the four-issue series should be on sale soon.
How come we see a lot of characters, mainly villains, with green and purple as their main colors?
— Steve (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Because so many of the heroes have costumes of red, yellow and blue. The green and purple, in addition to denoting the villains’ obviously horrid fashion sense, make them contrast with their foes.
What was the reasoning behind changing Mal Duncan from a new Guardian to Hornblower in the 1977 TEEN TITANS issues? I notice it happened when a certain distinguished writer came on the scene…
— Glenn Simpson (email@example.com)
While it might be hard to believe, it was Julie Schwartz’s decision. Yes, the man responsible for the Silver Age of comics with the revivals of The Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, et al, did not want to have Mal as a new version of the Golden Age hero. Julie took over as editor with the second issue of the revived title (after Joe Orlando edited the first one, with Paul Levitz and yours truly sharing the scripting chores). He instructed that “certain distinguished writer” to come up with some other identity for Mal and our brainstorming session resulted in the Angel of Death story and the Hornblower identity.
Who owns the rights to the characters from the very short-lived Atlas line from the late 70s? Is it conceivable that this “universe” might be resurrected in some form?
— Roy Bayfield (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I don’t know who holds the rights, but it’s unlikely that we will see these characters again, Roy. For a detailed look at the line, check out COMIC EFFECT #34, Jim Kingman’s always enjoyable publication. I’ve mentioned this fanzine before and want to again recommend it. Check out Jim’s website at http://www.comiceffect.com/ for more information.
Was it a DETECTIVE COMICS issue or a BATMAN issue that had a turban-wearing Dark Knight levitating Robin through a hula hoop?
I don’t know what issue you’re thinking of, but Batman wears a turban in DETECTIVE #322 (“The Bizarre Batman Genie”) and Robin JUMPS through a hoop in his debut issue, DETECTIVE #38.
GOOGLING FOR INFO DEPARTMENT:
Here’s another one of those sections of the column that I get complaint notes about because the people asking the questions could just as readily get the answers by going to Google™ as I do. If you’re one of those folks who hate these questions, skip down to the next horizontal line…
Whatever happened to Mike Baron?
— Scott Delano (email@example.com)
Check out his web page at http://www.hollywoodcomics.com/baron.html.
Whatever became of Batman and Daredevil artist, Dave Mazzucchelli?
— Gabriel Garcia (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Here’s a link to one of his more recent ventures. http://www.little-lit.com/artists/mazzucchelli.html.
I used to go to the Phil Seuling Comicons in the early 70’s when I found I had a long lost relative (Steve Pappas) who used to work for Seagate Distributors. Since Phil’s death in the 80’s I have been trying to track him down with no success. Whatever happened to Seagate?
— Brian Pappas (GeorgeB.Pappas@verizon.net)
Seagate has been out of business for quite a number of years. Good luck in your search.
What ever happen to Joe Brancatelli? This guy used to have a column in the Warren magazines of the 70s, usually full of doom and gloom about the future of comics. In the 80s and early 90s his views seemed overly pessimistic. But right now even the best selling mainstream titles are selling at numbers that would had them cancelled in the 80s. As I recalled POWER MAN & IRON FIST was cancelled because they were only selling around 120,000 issues per month.
— Kamar Zaman (Marvelite2000@yahoo.com)
Joe can be found online at http://www.zyworld.com/brancatelli/branc.htm.
I was wondering if Dave Cockrum was doing okay. I am a big fan of his and heard that he was sick and in the hospital with diabetes complications. Please let me know, and if you can, please pass on a good word to him from me. Thanks!
— Ken Kolm (email@example.com)
I don’t have any direct info and, unfortunately, http://www.davecockrum.com has turned into a deserted storefront. Dave, if you’re out there reading this, how about an update?
I was a huge fan of the indy comic book, SCUD, THE DISPOSABLE ASSASSIN, published by Fireman Press a few years ago. Just when it seemed the story was drawing to a close, the title stopped and never saw print again! Can you tell me whatever happened to the title and its creator, Rob Schrab? Thank you.
— Joe Lopez (JoeLopez101@aol.com)
You can find out what he’s doing at http://www.geocities.com/klay_doe2000/schrab_projects and there’s an interview with Rob at http://www.crcradio.net/issue10/Robschrab.html.
There are a few MIA creators I’m curious about. Can you tell me what Bob Burden, Norm Breyfogle, John K. Snyder III, and Cary Bates have been up to recently? Do you know if any of them plans on returning to comics?
— Chad (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The Bob Burden links are about three years out of date. I could find nothing to directly link to John Snyder. Norm is at http://www.normbreyfogle.com/
You can find out about Cary at http://members.tripod.com/~jemlist/carybates.html.
[Ed’s Notes: Bob Burden put out a Flaming Carrot / Reid Flemming crossover at Dark Horse late last year, and when I last heard of him he was pitching a few story ideas to Marvel, of all places!]
Do you know where I can write to Trevor Scott, the inker of Quitely’s AUTHORITY? Thanks a lot.
— Rodolphe (email@example.com)
You can write to him in care of DC Comics, 1700 Broadway, New York, NY 10019.
About the Robert Loren Fleming thing…I had remembered him as having passed away as well. The root of the rumor (well, for me) is this interview with Keith Giffen about the Ambush Bug revival, where he is referred to as the “late scripter.” http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=2315.
Of course, “late scripter” might mean simply that Flem isn’t working on this new book, but that’s not how it sounds in context.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find any information about this one way or another. I’m hoping the reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated!
— Jonathan Miller (firstname.lastname@example.org)
…Keith Giffen is still in touch with Robert Loren Fleming and can confirm that RLF is alive and well.
— Robert Rowe (email@example.com)
I just wanted to write to thank John Wells for identifying for me (finally!) the Supergirl story featuring Johnny Blank. I read it as a reprint in an Aussie comic many years ago and now I can look for (and hopefully find) it for my collection. The reason? My maiden name was Jenny Blank!
— Jen in Oz (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Got questions? Need answers? Use the handy mint-green box below. And after you’ve done that, try your hand at my daily Anything Goes Trivia at http://www.worldfamouscomics.com/trivia.
See you back here next week.
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Copyright ? 2000 to 2003 by Bob Rozakis. All Rights Reserved.