The History of The American Comics Group
The premiere and most extensive
history of one comic book publisher ever written, reflecting the reading habits
of millions of people of all ages during the seminal Golden and Silver Ages of
Comics, 1938 to 1970. This textbook answers several long-standing questions
among historians about the relationship of ACG and the largest publisher of
comic books at that time, DC. Forbidden Adventures also dispels some long lived
myths about EC Comics and their (in)famous terror titles, while shedding light
on the early history of the most popular art form in the world.
As an independent agent, the Sangor
Shop began producing comic book material for publishers in 1941 and had grown
into ACG by 1946. Never the largest publisher, ACG was nevertheless a microcosm
of the industry, publishing titles in every major comics genre.
During the Sangor period, many famous
characters were created including The Black Terror, Pyroman, The
Fighting Yank, and Supermouse. "Herbie," Forbidden
Worlds," and "Adventures Into The Unknown" (the first horror
comic) are the best remembered ACG titles.
Many major talents germinated at
Sangor and ACG. Kin Platt wrote mystery novels, Norman Fruman wrote a book on
Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Harry Lazarus holds many patents and illustrates
children's books. Everett Raymond Kinstlers portraits of American presidents
hang in the White House. Hy Eisman writes and draws "The Katzenjammer
Kids" and "Popeye.
This history surveys the Sangor Shop
and ACG, using many sources, exclusive interviews, and a wealth of information
available in the comics themselves. It includes many capsule story summaries
from selected titles. Much of editor Hughes' philosophy of writing and producing
comics is explored as well as the entire process involved in creating a comic
The book is published by Greenwood
Publishing Group and should be available in your local library. If they dont
have it ask them to order a copy.
How do I know so much about Forbidden
Adventures? I wrote it.
Published by D.C. Comics in bookshelf
format at 96 pages, priced at $14.95.
I love Elseworlds tales. Just
like Marvel Comics What If
? and the imaginary tales of D.C.
Comics, they give creators a free hand with some of the most interesting and
entertaining fictional characters around today. The latest "Elseworlds"
tale is, in my opinion, one of the finest yet.
Jon Kent is the son of Clark Kent, aka
Superman. His powers brought to the surface by an incredibly powerful solar
flare, he decides to take up the mantle as the new Superman. Joining the
terrorist organization known as "The Supermen", led by Pete and Lana
Ross, he takes up their cause of stopping a war of "economic
segregation" being waged by the U.S. government.
Raiding a secret instillation owned by
Lex Luthor, Jon and the Supermen discover the original Superman in suspended
animation. Jon's discovery of his father, assumed dead, coupled with his
association with terrorists, puts him at odds with the government-funded and
military garbed team, the Justice League of America.
This is a rapidly paced, highly
entertaining story, even for an "Elseworlds edition. Characterization,
however, is where it rides the highest. Very high marks go to writers Howard
Chaykin and David Tischman. They have created a son of Superman who is as
believable as a teenage kid looking to score a date, and as a fledgling
superhero seeking to fill his father's boots. Equally as entertaining is this
storys "dysfunctional family" of JLA members. whose attitudes range
from idealistic to indifferent, to downright treasonous.
I found the actions and reactions of
the JLA members to the events around them fascinating. This was a very fresh
take on the characters.
The artwork is by J.H. Williams III,
one of the most talented young artists in comics today. He has a style that is a
bit dark and moody, and was perfect for this story. His work is inked by Mick
Gray. Keep an eye on them. MN
Published by DC Comics, this four
issue miniseries runs 22 pages at $2.50 each.
Unfortunately, there is very little SF
published in comics today that is worth the paper it's printed on. That's why
DC's recently released Trouble Magnet by Ryder Windham and Kilian
Plunkett, is a breath of fresh air.
Whitlock is a member of a group called
the Trouble Shooters, a science research team and group of adventurers. He is
also a robot, and has a very serious problem; his memory bank (stored apart from
him) has developed an identity of its own, along with a decidedly nasty habit of
causing mayhem. The story deals with Whitlock's attempt to stop his memory bank,
regain his memories, and deal with the physical and emotional damage done to
those around him as a result of its running amok.
This book corners the market on
imagination, and an honest attempt to do nothing more than entertain the reader.
And it succeeds. There are no lags or "dry spots" in the story; the
reader is not bored with too much dialogue. At the same time, there is no danger
of overdosing on action, as it is all relevant and well-positioned in the
storyline. The book is well-balanced, and a joy to read from start to finish.
Creative talents include Ryder
Windham, writer, and artist Kilian Plunkett. As I have already praised Windham's
handling of the story, I will move on to Plunketts artwork, which is amazing
in its own right.
Plunkett is wonderfully adept at
"tech art (robots, weaponry, space- ships, etc), and also has a superior
grasp of human form and expression comparable to the likes of Kevin Maguire and
Arthur Adams. On fact, Adams fans should check Plunkett out; it almost seems as
if one of them is influencing the other.) There is never doubt about what one of
his characters is feeling; you just have to look at their faces.
From every angle, Trouble Magnet
is a great investment in entertainment. MN
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