Posts Tagged ‘back issues’

MoCCA report


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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MoCCA 2010. Not a bad time.

A low key festival. Good times, good times. No, seriously. It was a good show. Hat’s off to MoCCA for smoothing out the wrinkles from last year.

I had a full table of, ahem, curated comic book back issues for sale. Part of my ongoing “education project” in the comics community. Trying to steer the youth in the right direction. I just can’t stand idly by and not extol the virtues of a Frank Thorne comic or a Pat Boyette comic when a youngster peruses the Master’s Box that I lovingly assembled. I go into my glib salesman routine and “sell” them on the idea of looking at comics in a different way. MoCCA, the festival, may be about small press comics but my whole shtick is about history. And tradition. And selling comics, and making money, sure, but also about small press roots in newsstand and direct market comics, in fandom. So I assemble a ton of comics that are sorted through and re-presented as mini artist monographs. My own Art Out of Time.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

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Hey everybody. Frank Santoro here. I’m still in “pitch mode'”after last week’s awesome convention. So, my post this week is another episode in my obsessive quest to understand mid ’80s independent comics. As usual, I ain’t got nothin’ much to say. Just riffing. Check this comic out if you see it around.


Upshot Graphics, 1986. “A division of Fantagraphics,” it reads on the indicia.(Anyone remember the story with Upshot? Cuz I forget.) It’s called Flesh and Bones. Basically another Dalgoda vehicle. Jan Strnad. Good writer. Did some work with Kevin Nowlan that I like. Dennis Fujitake’s art on the lead story, Dalgoda, is solid, if a little stilted. A little too Moebius for me. But with none of the real drawing chops of Moebius. Anyways. Flesh and Bones was a book that re-presented Dalgoda and also had back up stories. Very good back-up stories.

Dalgoda art

I’ve seen this book in the bins for years but I spaced on who actually did the back up story. Well, it was Alan Moore. A reprint from a black and white magazine called Warrior from 1983. The story is called the BoJeffries Saga. For this version, it’s been shrunk and colored. A little hard to read at first. But once I got settled it played out like a pleasant little British comedy. You know. That wacky British humor that is sort of really subtle and eccentric at the same time? Yah. Great story. The art is like a leftover ’70s hodgepodge. Not bad. Steven Parkhouse. Cool image on the back cover. Should have been the front cover. I guess Dalgoda had to get top billing.

Moore’s story is about a rent collector. I could sort of read into this story from ’83 and imagine what Moore would go on to do. Basically, I would read into the rent collector character and imagine him to be Rorschach. What if Rorschach was sent around to collect the rent? Hurm.

back cover

   BoJeffries Saga 

BoJeffries Saga

This is that funny moment in 1986 when there was a sort of “Comics Renaissance” gaining critical mass. Alan Moore was part of that. So was Fantagraphics. And so was Heidi MacDonald.

Look at the article Heidi wrote back when there was no internet. It was a two-page article in this issue of Flesh and Bones. She’s asserting that Kirby, Tezuka, and Hergé are the “Gods of Comics.” Has her Pantheon of Comics Gods changed? I wonder…

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Friday, October 30, 2009

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The only thing I’m really obsessive about is trying to find the real worth of something and my relation to it. It doesn’t matter whether it’s comics or anything else, you know. So that’s an ongoing process. It’s a matter of possibly trying to find, to develop, what I know so that I can grasp things that I’m only seeing in an overt way. You never get to the essence of anything. What you do is just peel back layers. I just wanted to pass the first couple of layers. I feel like my whole life is wasted if somehow or other I respond to a lifetime of work exactly the same as the fucking fans.

—Gil Kane, 1977 conversation with Gary Groth included in his tribute “The Man Who Knew Too Much: Remembering Gil Kane”, The Comics Journal #222, April 2000

The first comic book I remember getting my hands on was Superman Special 1983 #1, written and drawn by Gil Kane. I obsessed over this comic book. The chunky drawing composed of spindly, coarse lines and bold, slanted hatch marks gave everything a tactile and chiseled look that made the unreal seem real to my young, impressionable eyes. I must’ve spent hours studying the cover alone: An angry Superman shoving his fist in the air, lines radiating out from under his cape, a giant flash of fire and smoke echoing his rage … A large, disembodied head hovers behind the man of steel … nervous hands reel, anticipating what might happen … and what happens is lurid, colorful, intense, over the top … an oratorio of a comic book, full of bubbly slime, furrowed brows, sweat bullets, clenched fists, tornadoes, tsunamis, an erupting volcano and Superman. Lots and lots of Superman as he navigates the silly world of mere mortals … and it’s the “mere mortals” part, which today makes me find Gil Kane’s frustration, smoldering and pinched between Superman’s black eyes.

Tonight I made the rounds; visiting several different quarter and dollar bins. I came home with a nice haul. I used to do this with more regularity but too often I found myself revisiting the same bins with the same shit, so now I go less often giving the retailers time to replenish their stock of cheap, unwanted comic books. For me, these bins are where it’s at. Flipping through thousands of grimy, moldy, water-damaged comic books in one night can be a heavy trip. It’s not out of the ordinary for a prismatic range of emotions to move through me as I spend hours digging through what seems to be the world’s supply of Image comics. But more often than not, by the second or third hour, I’ve settled into an undulating balancing act, sliding back and forth from cosmic excitement to common existential dread.

Gil Kane’s work on Superman Special 1983 #1 is fucking awesome. But it’s not enough.

It’s over! He’s gone … destroyed by his own ambitions! His mind and body couldn’t endure the trauma of endless accelerated mutation! Ambition pursuing its own ends, indifferent to the world about it … corrupts all! No matter how well-intentioned, ambition without compassion makes us … not more … but less than human!

—Superman’s thoughts from panels 1 and 2 from page 43 of Superman Special 1983 #1, written and drawn by Gil Kane.

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