Thursday, January 28, 2016

Superman Showcase

I have a "Showcase" collection of 50s (at least I think they are from the 50s) Superman comics that I've been reading lately.  I guess as a result of the Comics Code almost all of these comics are about Superman obsessively protecting his secret identity and avoiding marriage rather than doing something more interesting like fighting villains.

One of the things I wasn't aware of before reading these is how often the artists would use the same pose of Superman not only in multiple issues but frequently within the same issue... It's clearly a case of having a drawing and slapping it on a light box and using the same drawing over and over again.  It's a little depressing, but I understand the reasons for it... those guys had tight deadlines and probably didn't get paid a lot.  There is one artist who only pops up occasionally in the book who's clearly head and shoulders above the other artist(s?) contained in the book... the inks are more polished, the characters less stiff and more emotive and the general treatment is more fun.  No idea who it is.
It's also fun to see how standards of what looks 'powerful' in the human form has changed... Supes is a big barrel chested guy in these comics, not the broad chested/slim waisted heros of today.
 bigger image


Tom Moon said...

WARNING: My Standard Old Guy Lament Ahead

How I love the old Supermans. I was in the comic store just the other day thinking how much the comics of today bore me. I know we can't go backwards to the old-chestnut storylines, but I'm dying for something new. Will there ever again be a new comics revolution as significant as the 1959 DC Silver Age one, or the Marvel revolution a few years later, or even the underground "Comix" one?

I'm kind of fed up with so-called "relevant" stories that children don't want to read and couldn't understand. I want something that captures the old, innocent, all-ages spirit in a new way. Maybe these days we have to rely on the occasional animated movie to fill that void.

Just the other day I was reading "Wind in the Willows" and "The Reluctant Dragon" by Kenneth Grahame. "How marvelous," I thought. "The author is holding my attention with just his poetic words and storytelling ability. Delightful for kids and adults alike."

Rick, could you post a page of the superior artist's work? I'm curious now and want to see if I can identify him.

MrGoodson2 said...

I always liked the Wayne Boring, going for a stroll, flying pose.

I know what you're saying Tom. I think it would be solved counter intuitively. Instead of freedom, it would happen if there was a house style fascism. Rules -rules- rules. You can do this and do it just like this. And make it assembly line. Under something like the indifference of a Charlton leadership. Just do it. Hit your inventory of pages.

Have people quit to do their own projects and write in the fan press how awful 'Fantasy Magic' studio is to work for. But the product would be something the average reader would love.

Ever since I read Charlton Spotlight, edited by an artist of the era, and understood why the Charlton's were so second rate, that became my dream job. Just a cog producing an inventory of work that no one above you gives a damn about.

Rickart said...

Tom: I'll see what I can find.
Ellis: Limitations do bred creative solutions, so perhaps the comics code wasn't all bad

BDMontag said...

I read a lot of Batman from the period not Superman. I can say I agree with Tom about stories. Artwise, I remember Batman was highly stylized but not repetitive. Heroes were drawn in tights to look like wrestlers and because to draw a character you start with the naked form, so it was easier to stop there and draw a bathing suit rather then put on some elaborate suit-like hero uniform. The idea of tough guy before weight machines was in attitude and girth. Who the hell had a latissimus before weight machines, not even Charles Atlas! (See Anthony Quinn in La Strada, Victor Mature as Samson, and Incredible Hulk #5, barrel shaped monster not doctor's office muscle diagram.)

I don't know whether it's degrees of freedom or editorial constraints that make for more captivating stories. It may be what market you are aiming for. If you are writing for 8 year olds and don't want to bore yourself you have to come up with something new (or not in the case of not marrying Lois every month, but Batman clasping a crocodile's mouth shut or riding a motorcycle up a cylindrical trap was pretty rad). If you think your market is the college kid walking into the comic shop on Wednesday, and as a writer you have six-month and then out contract, then the Hulk changes color and someone dies. Rinse and repeat. Some day I will bore you all with my theory of how the comic book store killed the comic book.

MrGoodson2 said...

Ben. The comic store killing comics sounds interesting. If you want to type it - I'll read it.

Tom Moon said...

Me too.

Davis Chino said...

"...that became my dream job. Just a cog producing an inventory of work that no one above you gives a damn about."

But woe betide your fellow cog-worker(s) in the neighboring cubicle(s)...!

Tom, you are funny equating Kenneth Grahame and mid-period Superman!

Everything very interesting on this blog...I should spend more time here.