Friday, January 27, 2012


His time was well served but there comes a time when one must step down. Marlon Brando, who once appeared on our $5 coupon and currently graces our $10 coupon will be officially retired on Friday, January 27th. We will raise his banner to the rafters and usher in a new celebrity. Who will it be!? It's one of the most guarded secrets of the store and everyone always has their say but there can only be one! So, join us on Friday, January 27th @ 9pm after regular store hours for some food, drinks and a special sale to commemorate the occasion. Be the first to see the Marlon Brando and the new $5 & $10 coupons! Everyone in attendance will be the first to receive the new $5 coupon with any purchase!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Quest!

I have been using the internet since well before the advent of web browsers, Google, Facebook or Hulu. I go back to the days when you had to drop your telephone into a special cradle in order to log on to various internet bulletin boards where you could do…not much actually. It was more the idea of being there than what you could do that drove a lot of first generation geeks to dip their toes into the antediluvian mire that was the internet. So you would think I’d be a little jaded by the experience of going online.

But no! I am still blown away by the sheer volume of …STUFF out there.
Case in point. During a slow moment today I casually entered “Stamp Day For Superman” into Google. This little known, little seen, never aired episode of “The Adventures of Superman” was made in 1954 for the US Department of Treasury to promote the sale of US Saving Stamps and was shown to grad school students during assembly (an ancient ritual where young students were herded into a large meeting place to be bored into a comatose like state. This function has since been replaced by Pokemon and Barney as well as the Twilight series).

But I digress!

Stamp Day For Superman is the perfect illustration of how so many things are easily available today. I got 170,000 hits! Including multiple links to this public domain video.
Now strap into your Legion Of Superhero Time Bubbles (US. Pat. Pending) and follow me into the mists of time as we travel back to


(by the way, why does time have to be so…Misty? All that mist leaves a film on the Time Bubble!)

But I digress yet again!

Disco was king! Reggie Bars rotted our teeth! Hair was big! And skirts were (ugh!) long! Farrah was the female ideal and Ali was (still) The Greatest.
In other words perhaps the dullest decade….well…ever.

BUT, we didn’t have the internet as you younguns know it. Stamp Day For Superman had not been seen since the 1950’s and all that Superman fans like myself knew about it was that this was a “lost” episode of our beloved George Reeves portraying the Man of Steel! It became the “holy grail” of Superman episodes. I would track down leads in fanzines that promised grainy super 8 prints. I would go to Comic shows scouring dealers tables for a copy. I KNEW it existed. So did dealers. But no one had ever actually SEEN it! I even contacted schools to see if they had old prints in some janitor’s closet that had not been opened since the Eisenhower administration.

BUPKIS! NADA!! ZIPPO!!! I had an easier time getting DATES than finding that $%#@# superman episode.

And THAT was the fun of it! The hunt! The Quest! I was NOT easy to find and so getting it was an end in itself.

When I FINALLY tracked down a copy two years after my quest begun I was ecstatic! I held it in my hands. A single Super 8 reel of film in a yellowing envelope. It cost me maybe $50. Which was not cheap in 1979. But I didn’t care. Stamp Day for Superman! I don’t believe it!!!

And…it…SUCKED!!! (well not really. It was just this 18 minute commercial for US Saving Stamps and geared to 8 year olds but George was his Super self!)

But it didn’t matter. I had seen my quest to the end and emerged victorious!
Not fast forward to…today. Google search. BOOM. Watching it on my desk top.
Convenient. I would not trade this accessibility for anything…

But sometimes I still miss the hunt.

That’s 30!


Friday, January 20, 2012

The Almost End Of Batman

Even the most loyal advocates of the Last Son Of Krypton (ie: SUPERMAN!), are forced to admit that it is Batman who is clearly DC’s most popular and visible character. (Sorry GL but that’s the way it is!). However, it may surprise you to learn that this was not always so. In fact there was a time that DC seriously considered canceling Batman and Detective altogether.

Batman’s early characterization as a creature of the night, a dark avenger had already been eroded by the introduction of Robin The Boy Wonder in Detective Comics #38 (1940).

It was thought that Batman needed something to make him more accessible to children (the core audience of comics at the time) and also give the writers someone that batman could talk to. In short order the covers depicting a grim and frightening Batman were replaced by a cheerful and swashbuckling character who more resembled Douglas Fairbanks’ Zorro than the Dark Knight. This was a radical departure from the core of the character but, despite this change, Batman remained extremely popular during the war years (1941-1945).

Batman would see his popularity erode in part as a result of the overall waning interest in Superhero characters after WWII. However he was almost destroyed by an enemy more dangerous than The Joker…Dr. Fredric Wertham.
Batman comics were among those criticized when the comic book industry came under scrutiny with the publication of psychologist Fredric Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent in 1954. Wertham suggested that Batman comics contained homosexual overtones and argued that Batman and Robin were portrayed as lovers. (it is hard to believe in these more enlightened times when Batwoman, a proud gay woman stars in her own popular book, that homosexuality was seen as a threat!)


Wertham's criticisms raised a public outcry during the 1950s. DC’s response was to create a light hearted fantasy based Batman in the postwar years intensified after the introduction of the Comics Code. Batwoman (in 1956) and the Bat-Girl (in 1961) were introduced in part to refute the allegation that Batman and Robin were gay. Add Batmite, Ace the Bathound (I kid you not!), Vicky Vale and the stories were more of a copy of “The Superman Family” which had revitalized DC’s other franchise character. Batman spent more time in Sci-fi adventures than in Gotham. Obviously this break with the core character did not have the desired result and his popularity continued to decline.

By 1964 Batman had hit his low point and DC was left with a choice bring Batman up to date with the rest of the line or cancel the books entirely.
Editor Julius Schwartz was assigned to the Batman titles. He presided over drastic changes, beginning with 1964's Detective Comics #327 (May 1964), which was cover-billed as the "New Look". Schwartz introduced changes designed to make Batman more contemporary, and to return him to more detective-oriented stories. He brought in artist Carmine Infantino to help overhaul the character. The Batmobile was redesigned, and Batman's costume was modified to incorporate a yellow ellipse behind the bat-insignia. The space aliens and characters of the 1950s were set aside. Batman's butler Alfred was killed off and a new female relative for the Wayne family, Aunt Harriet, came to live with Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson.

and after

This new sleeker Batman, more grounded in a “real” world along with the runaway success of the Batman TV series gave Batman a short term spike in popularity which saw circulation of Batman and Detective peak at 900,000 copies a month. Once the Batcraze of the 1960’s subsided, so did the sales of the books. However Swartz and Infantino laid the groundwork that would lead to a gradual move back to the core “Dark Knight” of the 1940’s that began with the wok of Neal Adams and Denny O’Neil, through Marshal Rogers and Steve Engelhart in the 1970’s. Batman was returning to his roots...but...

Sales would continue to decline until a young Frank Miller dropped a bombshell on the comic book world. The Dark Knight Returns (1986) catapulted Batman into a popularity he has never relinquished. This portrayal of a 50 year old retired Batman in a dystopian Gotham City completed the full circle journey of the character back to his 1939 genesis. Miller would later re-imagine Batman’s origins along with David Mazzuchelli in Batman year One (Batman 404-407) and Brian Bolland along with Alan Moore would cement the slightly skewed reality of the character with 1988’s “The Killing Joke”.

These works would form the foundation of the modern Batman’s character and the world in which he moves. But those works might never have come to be if not for the efforts of Swartz and Infantino and the “New Look” Batman.

That’s 30!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Proto-Comics and The Platinum Age

When most comic collectors think about the “first” American comic books, they think about the “Golden Age” which began in June of 1938 with the publication of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman. In fact the development of the American comic book goes back much further than that. All the way back to 1833!

As the late, great Casey Stengel would have said…”You could look it up.”
Various publishers had been releasing collections of comic strips for some time, the earliest known being The Adventures Of Obadiah Oldbuck which appeared in New York in 1842.

The first modern and truly popular character in American comics seems to have been The Yellow Kid who never actually spoke but communicated via messages that appeared on his night shirt. “The Yellow Kid In McFadden’s Flats is likely the first proto-comic . It first saw publication in 1897. This was a collection of reprinted comic strips that had appeared as early as 1896. The practice of reprinting popular comic strips in hard and soft bound collections (many of which were comic book like in structure) would be the defacto method of creating comic books until the advent of all new material that, along with Superman would signal the beginning of the Golden Age of Comics.

The first known example of a full color comic book was a Hearst produced publication called “The Blackberries”. It appeared in 1901. However, comic book publishing was intermittent and a regular monthly title, “Comics Monthly”, would not appear until 1922. As with earlier books, “Comics Monthly” was a collection of reprinted newspaper or magazine strips.

In 1929, Dell Publishing, released “The Funnies”. This was formatted more like a Sunday Newspaper insert than a comic book, but was sold as a stand alone product. It is also the earliest known example of a comic book that included original material. “The Funnies” ran WEEKLY for 36 issues and was released on Saturday through October 1930.

By 1933, Maxwell Gaines, sales manager of Eastern Color Printing began publishing “Funnies On parade” Like “The Funnies”, “Funnies On parade” more closely resembled a Sunday Newspaper insert. Unlike “The Funnies”, Gaines’ book published reprinted material such as Mutt and Jeff, Joe Paloooka and Skippy Eastern Color did not actually sell this periodical. It was sent it out free as a promotional item to consumers who mailed in coupons clipped from Procter & Gamble soap and toiletries products. The company printed ten-thousand copies for this promotion. This was so successful that Eastman produces several other promotional comics and this was, for a short time, the dominant form of comic book distribution.

Also in 1933, Eastern began publishing “Funnies On Parade: A carnival Of Comics”. This is considered to be the first “true” American comic book. It was 36 pages long. There is some dispute on whether this comic was sold or given away. However it is likely that both methods of distribution were used as copies have shown up with stickers on the cover hawking it for a dime, while other copies appear with no price tags.

“Famous Funnies: A Carnival of Comics”, eventually gave way to Famous Funnies #1 (cover-dated July 1934), a 68-page comic that sold for a dime. It was distributed to newsstands by the American News Company. News syndicates would become the major distribution arm for comics right up until the advent of the specialty comic shop and direct sales in the 1980’s. “Famous Funnies” was a hit with readers and ran for 218 issues.
When the supply of available existing comic strips began to run dry, small amounts of new, original material in comic-strip format began to appear. A comic book of all-original material, with no comic-strip reprints, debuted. National Allied Publications (later known as DC) released “New Fun” #1 in February of 1935. “New Fun” mixed humor and dramatic stories between the covers of the book. It would also feature early work but such creators as Seigel and Shuster, who would later create Superman. One of their creations was a proto-superhero known as Dr. Occult.

But this was created under their pseudonyms, Leger and Reuths.

By 1938, publishers were finding it absolutely necessary to gather original material as the supply of reprints had pretty much dried up. This opened the door for a whole group of very young creators with names like Kane, Robinson, Kirby, Simon, Seigel and Shuster etc. This influx of talent and invention of the Superhero would bring the “Platinum Age” to a close and usher in “The Golden Age Of Comics”

That’s 30!


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Thanks For The Memories

Happy 2012! I am back (for good or ill) after a brief hiatus for the holidays. I do hope all of you had a wonderful and HEALTHY holiday season, and that Santa stuffed your stockings with all sorts of comic book goodness.

I was looking back on the last part of 2011 and two pieces of news arose that call for a moment of our time. In December lost two of the most influential comics creators in the history of the medium.
Joe Simon and Jerry Robinson.

When I say these gentlemen were two of the most influential creators in the history of comics, I am not engaging in hyperbole. These men were right there with the likes of Siegel and Shuster, Kirby and Lee, Bob Kane…any of them.

Joe Simon, passed away on 12/14 at the age of 98 from natural causes. His name is almost always spoken in conjunction with his long time partner, the King Of Comics, Jack Kirby. Together, they created one of the most iconic characters in comics history…Captain America. At a time of great uncertainty in our country and around the world Simon helped create a symbol of America that endures to this day. Most recently in a film and two monthly titles. Cap has been in print almost without exception since 1941. There was a brief hiatus but he was back in Avengers #4and has been going strong ever since.

If that was Simon’s ONLY contribution to the history of comics it would have been a great legacy. But he did so much more. As an artist, along with Kirby, Joe redefined page layout, often exploding action through panel borders creating a story telling language still being used to this day.
Joe was also the first editor of Timely Comics, which would eventually become Marvel.

A couple of years ago, I stood in line for over an hour just to meet him at NY Comic Con. I am not an autograph hunter or one given to waiting in lines, but for Joe, it was a privilege.

Joe Simon. He will be missed of course, but as long as Cap is still slinging his shield, Joe will be remembered and celebrated.

Jerry Robinson. What a sharp guy he was! I saw him speak at Comic Con in 2010 and he told some great stories. At the then age of 87, he looked in great shape and was having a ball with the fans and adulation that was so late in coming his way. For decades Jerry (along with Bill Finger) was one of the unacknowledged creators of Batman. While Bob Kane through contract and editorial policy was the credited creator of the Dark Knight, Batman was created by committee.

Jerry was instrumental in the creation of Robin The Boy Wonder and The Joker, as well as much of the Batman mythos. In recent years he received acknowledgement for his contribution and the accolades so long overdue.
Like Joe, Jerry was more than a one shot wonder. He was a prolific creator for many years. However his greatest contribution to comics was as an advocate for creator’s rights. During the mid 70’s Jerry was one of the key figures in championing the case of Siegel and Shuster in their decades long struggle with DC over their creation of Superman. Along with Neal Adams, Jerry helped win, not only financial compensation for the pair but creative credit for both Siegel and Shuster in all broadcast and published works containing the Superman character.

In 1978, he founded Cartoonists & Writers Syndicate/CartoonArts International which as of 2010 has more than 550 artists from over 75 countries.

They once asked Mickey mantle how he would want to be remembered. His answer was not to be remembered so much as a great player but as a great team mate. That is how, I think, Jerry Robinson will be remembered. That is a fine legacy for anyone.
Jerry passed away on December 7th, right here on Staten Island.

Joe…Jerry. Thanks for everything. We’ll miss you both.

That’s 30.