Tuesday, 24 February 2015

PART TWO OF STRANGE TALES COVER GALLERY...


All images copyright MARVEL COMICS

And now, a leap back to the 1960s, to take a look at an earlier,
more innocent age, when comicbooks sold in far greater numbers
than they do today.  On the whole, I think I preferred these more basic
tales, which one could read in 20 minutes without getting bogged down
in a multi-part serial consisting of talking heads - where nothing very
much happens in a story you can't fully understand until you've
read the collected edition many months down the line.

That's the difference between these comics and today's crop:
All the writers and artists wanted to do back then was entertain the
readers for a short while.  Today's current creators seem far more in-
terested in demonstrating how clever they are, and using comics as a
showcase for how suited they'd be working in more 'mature' mediums,
like movies or TV.  With a few exceptions (like FRANK MILLER's
DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN, for example), give me the 'cheap
and cheerful' comicbooks of the '60s and '70s any day.

With that in mind, let's now enjoy these STRANGE TALES
covers together, as we return once again to yesteryear.  Anyone
else miss these simpler types of comics as much as I do?









21 comments:

TC said...

I agree. Silver Age comics knew their place. They provided inexpensive entertainment for their audience. And they did not pretend to be Fine Art.

Today, comics are unsuitable for children, because of their graphic violence and sexual suggestiveness. But they are also unfit for adults, because they are still, at their core, juvenile power fantasies about super-humans in colorful costumes fighting other super-humans in colorful costumes.

Then there are the line-wide crossover events and tie-ins, and long story arcs and serials. It's bad enough to have to buy six consecutive issues of one title, but you end up having to buy every issue of every title, because everything ties in with everything else.

And today's comics, and their creators, are so pretentious, with delusions that what they are doing is educating the ignorant masses. And the endless retcons and reboots seem to have an attitude of, "Those creators back in the sixties were doing it all wrong, so now we geniuses have to change everything to get it right."

Give me a done-in-one "Johnny Storm vs. Paste Pot Pete" any day.

Kid said...

I'd say that you're 100% correct in your assessment, TC. Anyone else agree - or NOT, even? Come on, don't be shy now.

John Pitt said...

Give me a pile of 60's comics ( that I've already read ) and a pile of today's comics which I haven't read ( but have exciting looking covers ), I would still choose the 60's pile!

Kid said...

Thing is, JP, very few of today's comics actually HAVE exciting-looking covers. The characters just stand around, looking out at the reader.

Colin Jones said...

I had a Dr. Strange Pocket Book (not to be confused with the other pocket books shown recently) which I bought when I was 12 and which featured the earliest Dr. Strange stories from Strange Tales. I'd never read them before and absolutely loved the simplicity of them - an entire story told in 7 pages. However, I don't have a problem with modern comics either and quite enjoy the ones I've read - I download graphic novels every so often. But I agree that too many of the modern covers are incredibly boring. Apparently the reason for this is because they are sold in specialist comics shops nowadays they don't need to grab the attention of casual readers. That's a lame excuse though as a dynamic cover is still important in my opinion. But there are some terrific modern covers too such as on 'Thor: God Of Thunder' recently.

Chris Tolworthy said...

I like it when sixties writers showed how clever they were too - like Kirby using actual Norse legends, or Steranko referring to real world events and using complex montages. but the difference is that they cared about comics as a medium. They wanted to give the most they possibly could.

But I think your comment about wanting to work in other mediums says it all: modern writers, almost without exception, consider comics as inferior to TV or movies. So they produce comics that try to be TV and movies, and so they fail.

The old comics knew what comics could be: just compare Kirby's Galactus to the movie Galactus, or Steranko's spy saga to a TV spy program. No contest! Comics can do some things better than any other medium, but we have to believe in them as comics.

Comics are a unique blend of fun and wonder, of compact story telling at a low price. When we lose sight of that we lose the greatest art form in history, IMO.

TC said...

And that's another thing: artists these days don't seem to be able to draw anything except the lead characters in static poses. The covers are portraits, and even a lot of interior art looks like the characters are floating around in limbo. These self-proclaimed wunderkinds can't draw perspective, and they can't draw backgrounds, such as buildings and bystanders.

jim whitaker said...

the covers you've shown are really exciting, eventful and enticing. completely unlike the static, pin-up poses on today's covers that leave me wondering if there's even a comic book inside to read.

Kid said...

I've still got that Dr Strange paperback, CJ. I bought the new, softcover Masterworks editions a while back (already having the original hardback of the first volume) and they're simply superb. There sre always some exceptions about today's covers, but, in the main, I tend to find them uninspiring.

******

Spot on, CT, that's pretty much how I feel. Modern creators seem to be embarrassed by working in comics (at least, they are when it comes to non-comics fans) and have tried to turn them into something else.

******

I'd imagine that some of them could draw these things if they tried, TC, but they certainly don't seem to want to in a lot of cases.

******

A succinct and evocatively-expressed opinion JW. However, there usually IS a comicbook inside, but whether it's one worth reading is another matter.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

I can’t say I disagree with your comments Kid and I also would prefer a pile of silver/bronze age comics as they really did have a charm all of their own as did the more gritty 70s titles (Conan, Deathlok etc) but I have to say that there have been some good modern comics out there over the last few years ,not many I grant you, but Marvel have/had a few nice / fun reads (Daredevil, Avengers, Thunderbolts, Mini Marvels, Rocket Racoon etc) DC sadly I feel have largely lost it ( Darwyn Cooke & Amanda Connor strips aside) especially with the relatively recent demise of (imho) their best book by far , Jonah Hex which I would add to that list of good modern reads. I would say that Dark Horse have some great books also especially the Hellboy series (although not for kids ) and anything by Stan Saki and Aragones’ is always very good - but I would agree 100% that the big 2s core titles (and most of their creators) are up their own bahookies most of the time.

Whilst the constant serials within serials are well and truly a bore in modern comics (made I think with an eye on the Graphic novel audience) what hacks me off the most is the almost constant revamps of characters, now we have a new black Captain America (the Falcon) a female Thor a “name a colour” version of the Hulk and a plethora of other bits and bobs all over the place all put forward as if they were addressing a social need (in reality it’s a commercial need) and of course Capt America and Thor etc will go back to their original versions in due course – I have heard a few younger readers (in my case that can be anyone under 50 something, so maybe not a great point to make ) saying they will be dropping all their Marvel titles once the new Marvel “ Secret War” series starts ( I hated the first Secret Wars) although Marvel I hear are simply just stopping storylines in their tracks (and some titles all together) on a lot of their existing books to make way for this , no doubt, bland series.

Whilst I don’t think any of today’s artists can compare to the likes of Jack Kirby, Streanko, Joe Kubert, Neal Adams, Romita senior, Gene Clan, Will Eisner etc for pure creativity, there are some amazing artists out there today that know how to tell a story such as Mike Deodato, Esad Ribić and our own Frank Quitely (etc) but there are far too many fanboy artist / writers out there diluting any good stuff doing work that they want to see as adults rather than create it for kids / teenagers (and dare I say all age readers) you need real talent like the “silver age giants” had to create legends on paper.

Kid said...

I've lost all interest in any modern DC comic, McScotty. I like a certain consistency, but the heroes have been chopped and changed too many times now for me to sustain an interest. In Marvel's case, it's not so much a 'commercial need' as 'commercial greed', but all those multi-hued Hulks compromise the uniqueness of the original, I'd say. At least they haven't gone the Spider-Horse, Spider-Dog, Spider-Mite route (as far as I know), which would be a huge step too far. Let's hope it never happens, eh?

There are, of course, some very talented artists in modern comics as you say, but although they're very good at rendering detail, I'm not convinced that their visual storytelling technique is the equal of Kirby's, Ditko's, Romita's and Colan's, etc. One glance at a Romita Sr page, and it was immediately obvious what was transpiring; I find a lot of modern artists lacking in that department. The only Marvel strip that I'm really enjoying at the moment is the Daredevil reprints in MWOM.

I fear that, as far as comics go nowadays, things will only get worse before they get better - if, indeed, they ever do.

Paul McScotty -Muir said...

Well maybe not Spider-Horse etc but they do have Spider-Ham and more worrying there is a comic called "Spider Verse" that seemingly feature every Spider-Man that has appeared in any media ever (I think that includes Spider Ham as well etc).

Dunsade Dave said...

I have that Dr Strange paperback too Colin, although annoyingly, I can't seem to find it right now...

I'm another one who prefers older comics to today's offerings: the only ones I've enjoyed consistently over the last few years have been Jonah Hex and the consistently brilliant Criminal.

I'm not a fan of this 'decompressed storyline' lark, which to me seems to be an excuse for dragging stories out to six parts to fit into a trade paperback. Lee and Kirby told the first Galactus story in three issues (actually less, since the first half of #48 is spent tying up the previous storyline). Nowadays it would be an eight part series with multiple tie-ins and spinoffs.

Kid said...

Ah, I'd forgotten about Spider-Ham, but didn't he initially exist in a different universe - in as much as he didn't interact with Peter Parker (again, as far as I know)? Of course, your mention of Spider-Verse comic seems to suggest that it's now no longer the case.

******

DD, most modern comics seem to be trying to give me more than I want from them. All I'm looking for is an entertaining diversion for 20 minutes to half an hour - not 'War and Peace' style sagas that seem to go on forever in the most tedious fashion.

TC said...

AFAIR, Spider-Ham never interacted with the "real" Spider-Man or any other mainstream Marvel characters in the 1980's. His universe seemed to consist of funny animal parodies of super heroes.

Re: the female Thor and black Captain America, my pet peeve is how Marvel pretends that they are addressing a social need (promoting "diversity") when in reality it is just a publicity stunt and a cynical marketing ploy. (And, as McScotty pointed out, it always gets changed back, usually just before the next movie comes out). And, even worse, if you object to the changes, they accuse you of racism and sexism.

Kid said...

I'm not a racist, but I object to Johnny Storm being black in the upcoming FF movie - purely on the grounds that it's not how the character was envisaged by his creators. I'd object just as much on the same grounds if they decided to turn Power Man or the Black Panther into white guys. Like you say, it's a marketing ploy disguised as diversity.

John Pitt said...

The fact of the matter is NOTHING in the movies is how it is supposed to be ( look at the X-Men movies ). I spend all my time in these films moaning to the missus ( who couldn't care less! ), " That's not how it's supposed to be! That's not how it happened! I should know! I was THERE!!"
But, even so, I can forgive the movies for rewriting history to fit a story into a couple of hours. But what I cannot understand is the reason for DC and Marvel COMICS to simply start again giving new and different origins to the characters.
To me, the original origins are how it happened. Anything else they come up with is just imaginary stories and "what ifs?"

Colin Jones said...

Peter Porker (ho ho) was Spider-Ham. In the next few months Marvel are apparently planning to merge all their different versions of the Marvel Universe together and kill off a lot of characters in the process. This will almost certainly mean that the "Samuel L Jackson" version of Nick Fury will become the official one rather than just the 'Ultimates' version that he's been till now. They might even (gasp) bring back Gwen Stacy as I believe there's a super-powered version of her in the Ultimates universe.

Kid said...

The reason they're doing that in the comics, JP, is because they're bereft of ideas on how to handle them. That's why they're starting from scratch, so that they can 'play by their own rules'. Well, they've lost me as a reader once it happens.

******

Another reason for changing characters, CJ, was because Marvel were trying to protect themselves from copyright claims, but having made peace with the Kirby family, there's really no need to change anything now.

John Pitt said...

I DON'T BELIEVE IT!! - Marvel have just released " SPIDER-GWEN" #1 !!!!

Kid said...

It goes without saying that I'll be giving it a miss - number one or no number one.

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