The Best of 1968, or, Scorpio Rising


Saturday, March 14, 2009

Since just about all the best of 2008 lists have been presented now I thought I’d rip off follow in Dan’s footsteps, and share the “outstanding graphic stories” of forty years ago, as presented in Graphic Story Magazine 11:

“Who is Scorpio?”
Written, told and drawn by Jim Steranko
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 1, June 1968

“Mind Blast”
Written, told and drawn by George Metzger
Graphic Story Magazine 9, 1968

“Whatever Happened to Scorpio?”
Written and told by Jim Steranko
Drawn by Jim Steranko, with John Tartaglione
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 5, October 1968

Honorable Mentions:

Equal Time for Pogo
Written, told and drawn by Walt Kelly
Simon & Schuster, 1968

“The Pipsqueak Papers”
Written, told and drawn by Wallace Wood
Witzend 5, 1968

“Dark Moon Rose, Hell Hound Kill”
Written and told by Jim Steranko
Drawn by Jim Steranko, with Dan Adkins
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. 3, August 1968

“Today Earth Died”
Written and told by Jim Steranko
Drawn by Jim Steranko, with Joe Sinnott
Strange Tales 168, May 1968

“The Junkwaffel Invasion of Kruppenny Island”
Written, told and drawn by Vaughn Bode
Witzend 5, 1968

“The Adventures of Fritz”
Written, told and drawn by Robert Crumb
Cavalier, February through October, 1968

Another big year for Steranko, obviously. It’s kind of fun to see the undergrounds start to sneak their way onto the list…

Graphic Story 11 is a terrific issue otherwise, too, by the way, with a great Will Gould interview, and even a fan letter from the infamous Dr. Wertham himself, congratulating the fanzine on its recent interview with Alex Toth, and attempting to claim the artist as a fellow spirit:

The point that interests me most, of course, is what he says about the artist not showing the realistic details of horror in a story, but having it take place offstage, as it were, as far as the picture is concerned. I agree with him entirely on that … because I have found out through long clinical studies that it may have adverse effects on the immature mind. For that I have been blamed often, and I’m glad to read the technical opinion of Alex Toth.

This didn’t prevent the editors from publishing a lengthy, vehement denunciation of Wertham on the preceding pages, of course.

Which is awesome, and one reason I like reading old magazines.

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9 Responses to “The Best of 1968, or, Scorpio Rising”
  1. Frank Santoro says:

    ah, Steranko…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Very interesting. A whole lot of Steranko there. I’m wondering why they didn’t pick any Kirby or Ditko (the pervious year they had picked a Mr. A story). 1968 was a little past Kirby’s peak years at Marvel (1964-1967) but still he was doing amazing work. As was Ditko. And Peanuts was at its absolute high point as well.

    And didn’t Zap #0 come out in 1968…. I guess this is all the wisdom of retrospect. Still, a very good snapshot of the best fan thinking of the era. Jeet

  3. Anonymous says:

    Wertham still had a point – not least about gratuitous sexism and racism in comics – which I assume the Code cracked down on (and the undergrounds brought back with a vengeance, with dubious merits).

    He may have underestimated the impact of TV – picking the weaker target – but jeez, some of those (non-EC) horror and crime comics were pretty unpalatable to kids.

    I recall the horror I felt when my kid brother showed me a picture he did – copied from a ‘Zap’ comic that I thought I’d safely bagged and put away. Felt pretty queasy at the thought of a six-year old reading S Clay Wilson etc!

  4. T. Hodler says:

    Yes, Jeet, Zap did come out in ’68, though Crumb at least is represented with Fritz. I think there’s probably too much Steranko on this list compared to the ’67 list, but … it’s interesting that they found so little to praise as outstanding, too!

  5. Inkstuds says:

    I just George Metzger today. I would love to see someone try and put together a collection of some his best stuff. I know he has all the original art for the work he is really proud of. He showed me some of it and its amazing stuff, and the newsprint quality of undergrounds don’t really do it justice.

  6. Frank Santoro says:

    During the Watchmen movie, when I realized that Rorschach was the kid from “Breaking Away”, I lost my mind. That made the movie totally worth it for me.

    shit, sorry, wrong blog.

  7. Bryan says:

    My favourite 1968 mini-masterpiece is “The Massacre of the Innocents” by Brad Caslor. Steranko sucks the ass of this comic!

  8. T. Hodler says:

    Hey Bryan —

    I haven’t read that story, but the first few pages look amazing. I’m going to check it out as soon as I have time.

    There’s some discussion and a link to it online here:

    Anyway, if Fred Hembeck is right, the story wasn’t actually published until ’72, so I don’t think we can blame the Graphic Story people for missing it!

  9. Bryan says:

    Yes, it’s quite nice (and I found it through that same link via Lord Hembeck).

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