Wednesday, 17 July 2019



Here's another little belter from the backyard of bygone bloopers in what I like to call STAN LEE's 'literary lapses'.  This one's from X-MEN #19 where The MIMIC has kidnapped JEAN GREY and is driving her out to his father's old laboratory in a deserted mine.  Take a look - Jean (in her MARVEL GIRL costume) is blindfolded, yet manages to 'see' that they're at a deserted mine and that CAL RANKIN's wings have gone.  What makes that last observation all the more remarkable (if there can be anything more remarkable than being able to see with a blindfold on) is the fact that he's behind her, so that's not something she could have noticed anyway, even with her eyes uncovered.

Also, he says that he wants the X-Men to follow him, so why blindfold Jean at all?  It matters not a jot if she sees where she's going if The Mimic wants to be followed, does it?  What's that you say?  Maybe she's blindfolded to prevent her using her telekinesis?  After all, she can't attack what she can't see.  Well, whether that's true or not, she's unlikely to use it to attack Cal while he's driving in case he crashes, 'cos then she'd be injured as well.  And besides, she could always use her telekinesis to remove her blindfold, just like she did in X-Men #3.  She doesn't need to see to do that.  It just doesn't add up on so many levels.

Stanley, you ol' rascal - you weren't paying attention again, were you? (Probably dialoguing the FFTHOR, and The AVENGERS at the same time as this one.  Hey, maybe that's why Rascally ROY 'The Boy' THOMAS took over writing the mag with the very next issue?)

Tuesday, 16 July 2019


My babies - I'm so proud

Here we come, 
gliding down the street,
everyone we meet.

Hey, hey, we're The Daleks,
better not get in our way,
'cos we're The Daleks from Skaro
and we got something to say...


(Sung to the tune of The MONKEES theme.)


Yes, it's true.  Your genial host was once in the position of being in a brothel for all of half an hour, surrounded by scantily clad lovelies and two guys wearing nothing but the skimpiest of towels.  Admit it, you're intrigued, aren't you?  Some people who visit this blog under cover of various proxy servers will even now be think-ing "Doesn't surprise me what depths of depravity that disgusting troll will sink to!", but they'll  read on in the hope of finding some nugget of info with which to metaphorically batter my already scurrilous reputation (in certain circles anyway).

So here's what happened.  A pal 'phoned me one night to say that he'd hurt his back at work and was looking to get some remedial attention on it.  He'd rung up a couple of physiotherapists (or whatever they're called) and was appalled at what they wanted to charge for a consultation on account of being a bank holiday weekend.  So he'd looked up Yellow Pages and discovered a massage parlour in the West End of Glasgow and wanted to know if I'd go in with him as I was familiar with the area.

The parlour, known as Aquarius, was situated in Park Quad, just around the corner from a B&B in Park Circus, where I and a young lady had stayed the night a few years before.  (It's all right, I knew her.)  Parked outside, I took one look at the place and said "Are you mental?  It's a brothel!"  He was philosophical about the matter.  "I should still be able to get my back massaged!" he replied.  So in we went.

He was charged £20 entry, given a drink and told to go and take a shower.  I explained that I was merely waiting on him and was advised that for £8 I could use the 'facilities'  (the bar and the pool room).  "Nah, it's all right, I'll just wait here at the desk," I said.  Some girls stood around the desk in their negligees, chatting, and rubbing moisturizer into their thighs and over their bodies.  I had to stoop for a while, and it occurred to me that they'd missed an opportunity in not charging me for the show.

Eventually, my friend reappeared, picked a lady, and was escorted to a room somewhere.  "You can use the pool room if you want," one of the girls said, so I wandered in, then immediately wandered out again on sight of two Chinese guys playing pool, wearing only the smallest of towels around their nether regions. Perhaps it was a unisex brothel, I thought, and they were there to cater to women or gays.  What did I know?  I'd never been in a brothel before (or since).  Turned out that they were two punters, taking a breather between sessions.

So I returned to the desk, where an affectionate black cat decided to make friends with me.  And yes, it was the nearest I got to any pussy that night.  (Thought I'd better say it before one of you did.)  Eventually my pal returned, looking more than slightly embarrassed.  As he informed me after we'd left, the woman had massaged his back for ten minutes, then enquired of him which services he wanted, telling him what was available and the costs involved.  When he explained that he was really just looking for a back massage, she became indignant.  "I'm not here to rub your back!" she said.  "I only make money from what I do in this room, I don't get a cut of the entry fee."  (The door entry fee, that is.)

So that's the story.  A small drink and a ten minute back rub cost my pal 20 smackers - he'd have been better going to a physiotherapist to begin with.  See what can happen when you take the cheapskate route and try and save a few pounds?  Anyway, now that you know the facts, The SUNDAY POST can go ahead and publish their expose on my shady time in a Glasgow brothel - I beat them to the punch and they can't hurt me.

(Let's just hope they don't uncover the story about me and that stuffed giraffe.  I'd never live that down!)

In case you're wondering, a couple or so years later, the place was raided and shut down, so it no longer exists.  Just thought I'd mention it in case anyone hurts their back at work and is looking for a massage parlour where they prefer not to do massages.  My friend could probably have sued them under the trade descriptions act, but then he'd have had to explain the situation to his missus, who wouldn't have been too happy about his little excursion into the seedier side of life.

Now where can  I can get this pain in my groin seen to?

Monday, 15 July 2019


To be completely honest, I don't have the faintest scooby what this awesome babe's name is, so I just made one up based on her being 'hot' enough to  be a BOND GIRL. (Well, her bod is certainly worthy, and her face is a perfect match.)  At first I thought I'd seen her face somewhere else, but then I realised I couldn't have as it's most likely always been on top of her neck.

Sunday, 14 July 2019



At the risk of you all groaning in despair "Oh, no - not again!", I simply can't help myself from marvelling at just how quickly time seems to fly by.  For instance, I bought the original issue (ASM #258) of the above new TRUE BELIEVERS mag back in 1984 - a whopping 35 years ago.  I can remember reading it in my then-new bedroom in another house in a different neighbourhood as if it was a relatively recent event.  (Yes, you guessed it - I'm trying to avoid saying "as though it were only yesterday".)  As most regular readers will know, my family lived in that other house for just over four years before returning to our previous (and my current) abode, but one glance at that cover (of either printing) and I'm back in that other residence (here it comes) "faster than a fart from The FLASH!"

Seeing it again is like saying hello to an old friend, even though I still have my original issue bought back in 1984.  So I guess I now have two old friends - who just happen to be twins.  (You were expecting me to type something sensible?  This is Crivens! remember - you want sensible, you shouldn't be here!  And besides, at's nearly 20 past 2 in the morning.)  Anyway, if you're not buying this series of comics, you should be (well, most of them anyway) - it'd cost you far more to buy the originals, and some of these new presentations are absolute crackers.  (Below are the two mags side-by-side so that you can compare them.) 

Saturday, 13 July 2019


DALEKS copyright BBC TV & the Estate of TERRY NATION

Okay, Criv-ites, here's a question for you all.  In the above photo of two 4 inch friction-drive DALEKS, one is an original '60s MARX toy (procured recently on ebay for an extremely reasonable price), and the other is a late '80s/early '90s DAPOL reissue, produced from the original Marx moulds.  Can you tell which is which?  Go on, hazard a guess - but remember, things might not be quite as they appear.  (And yes - that's the back page Dalek strip from TV CENTURY 21 #1 that they're posing against.)


I got my first Marx Dalek in 1967.  Eventually, I had two silver ones, a black one, and a red one.  By the time I started secondary school in late 1970, I don't think I had any of them anymore, meaning my ownership of them was relatively brief.  However, in memory, it seems like I had them for years and years, far longer than their replacements purchased from '88/'89 onwards.  (Must have around 30 of them, if not more.)  That means I've now owned them for around 30 years, yet that period feels far shorter than the three-odd years I had the originals.  Funny that, eh?

Thursday, 11 July 2019



Here's one I pre-ordered back in May, and it popped through my door today - which rather amazed me as I don't have a letterbox.  Ho-ho, relax, of course I do, just joshing - about the letterbox, that is.  X-MEN #1 facsimile edition is something that I don't really need as I have the original issue, plus the TRUE BELIEVERS reprint, but I just can't resist these little beauties.

However, I have a few bones to pick with this one.  For a start, I wish they'd left the COMICS CODE box on the cover, as they have with the other mags in this series. (And for some reason, the indicia is in the wrong place.)  Also, one of the ads is reproduced at too large a size, resulting in it almost bleeding off one side of the page, and another ad is slightly different from the original.  That's it below - see if you can spot the two main differences.  (I won't mention the missing 'em dash' in another ad as that's perhaps being a tad too pernickety.)

Another thing is that I miss the 'continued after next page' lines at the bottom of the pages preceding any ads,  and I wish that MARVEL would print the interiors on matt paper instead of glossy stock.  Those minor observations aside, however, it's an issue worth having, as it's as close as you're ever likely to get to owning this classic comic. Unless, of course, you already have it, or you win a substantial amount of moolah on the Lottery.

Anyway, below is the facsimile alongside the original.  If you don't have the 1963 ish, buy the 2019 one and just make-believe.

Update:  It seems that Marvel have taken shortcuts with this issue.  I checked my 1991 MARVEL MILESTONE EDITION of the comic, and the re-created ad used therein has been utilised for the facsimile edition.  I hope they don't continue in this vein with future releases, as some of the reconstructed ad pages in the Milestone mags were poor imitations of the originals.   

Wednesday, 10 July 2019



Copyright MARVEL COMICS.  Published by PANINI

76 pages of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes!

The Avengers face a force that can’t be stopped – the Celestial menace known as the Final Host!  By Jason Aaron & Ed McGuinness!

Featuring material first printed in Avengers #5-6, 8-9.

On sale 11th July.




76 pages of Marvel’s toughest heroes!  Three great stories!

The X-Men find the resurrected Wolverine – but this isn't going to be a happy reunion!  By Charles Soule & Declan Shalvey! 

Plus: X-23 and Gabby uncover the horrifying plan of the Stepford Cuckoos – just a little too late!  More intrigue from Mariko Tamaki & Juann Cabal! 

Also: Deadpool heads back to Wakanda to tackle the Black Panther! By Daniel Kibblesmith & Ricardo Lopez Ortiz!

Featuring material first printed in Return of Wolverine #3, X-23 #2 and Black Panther vs Deadpool #2.

On sale 11th July.


Tuesday, 9 July 2019


Bottom tier, page 3.  Copyright MARVEL COMICS

If you read BARRY PEARL's guest post about the MARVEL METHOD, then you'll be aware of how the 'House of Ideas' produced their comics back in the 1960s.  (Perhaps you even knew before reading Barry's article.)  However, writing the captions and dialogue after the art had been drawn sometimes resulted in the occasional continuity blip, and this new 'now-and-again' series playfully and affectionately takes a look at some of STAN LEE's howlers - when his script didn't reflect exactly what was happening in the pictures.

Top tier, page 4.  He could never have made it home that quick

One example is The AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #13, where PETER PARKER is sitting in a deserted classroom one moment, and mere 'minutes later' is in the kitchen of his AUNT MAY's Forest Hills home.  Stan obviously wasn't paying too much attention to the background scenes in the preceding panels (though to be fair, he'd have dialogued them in their pencil form).  Had the caption read 'Later, back home...' then there would have been no problem, but Stan's oversight managed to sneak through into print undetected.

In your local comics shop now

Hardly an earth-shaking revelation, but it just goes to show that even the mighty Stan Lee wasn't exempt from the odd boneheaded boo-boo from time to time.  Apart from that, it's a nice little tale, reprinted in the above TRUE BELIEVERS if you'd like to refresh your memory.

Monday, 8 July 2019


Copyright relevant owner

One of my chief faults (among many) is that it takes me forever to get around to doing things - decades even, in some instances.  It's not uncommon for me to have taken 30 years or more to acquire missing comics to plug gaps in my collection, not because of their scarcity, but simply because I was too lazy or distracted to actively seek them out.  (I've got model kits from 20 or more years ago still in their boxes, plus three [for someone else] I've not yet finished months after starting them.)

Such was the case with REVIEWS From The FLOOR Of 64, a fanzine initially devoted to FANTASTIC and TERRIFIC which I saw advertised quite a number of years back.  I meant to buy it, contacted the fella who produced it to say that I would - and then, before I knew it, the years had rolled by without me ever having done anything about it.  Until a couple or so months back when I finally purchased the first three issues via ebay.

Let me tell you, this is one of the very best (if not the best) fanzines of its kind that I've ever read.  Diligently-researched, intelligently and amusingly written, well illustrated, and displaying the writer's obvious love of the subject matter.  If you're around my age and remember the ODHAMS POWER COMICS, then this is a mag that you should seriously consider buying.  Back numbers of every issue are still available from the email address at the foot of the post.

The mag changed its name to PAST PERFECT when it widened its interests a good while back (#42) to include American comics, and other British titles like TV21, MWOM, SMCW, TV TORNADO, and WHAM!, SMASH!, and POW! (as well as others I've probably forgotten).  Super-thick (the current issue has 76 pages, many of them in full-colour), each A5-sized ish is a comics nostalgist's dream and would make a wonderful addition to your regular reading material.

For further details, dash off an email to editor, writer, and compiler PAUL WARE at - go on, give it a try - I'd be surprised if you weren't glad you did once you've seen what a labour of love it is.

Sunday, 7 July 2019



A good while back, around the time that REBELLION started releasing their collected editions under the TREASURY Of BRITISH COMICS imprint, I emailed them and politely suggested that they should consider publishing the MISSING LINK/JOHNNY FUTURE strips first printed in FANTASTIC back in the late-1960s.  The standard reply I received saying that they had no plans to do so, but might consider it at some stage in the future (npi) didn't give me much hope for the prospect.

However, now, with the news that just such a volume is being planned for release in 2020, I'm claiming credit for giving them the idea.  Well, why not?  I even suggested on this blog that other Criv-ites should contact them and make the same suggestion, so that they could determine the level of interest in such a collection.  So, in my usual modest, understated way, I'm saying that it's all down to me.  (Humility is my middle name.)

One of the things that always puzzled me when I was a kid was that, when the Missing Link first stumbled out of the jungle, he was wearing a pair of gents trousers.  Now you and I both know ODHAMS PRESS could hardly have had him gadding about naked, but they should've given him a loin cloth, not an item of clothing from BURTON The TAILOR.  As an (alleged) adult, I set my mind to contriving an explanation for the way he was attired, and the following idea is what I came up with. (Well, okay - perhaps it wasn't my chief motivation, but it was something I wanted to address.)


It's really a rather obvious connection to make when you think about it.  The clue is in the names - JOHNNY FUTURE and The MAN Of TOMORROW!  So - what's the 'missing link' between the two awesome appellations?  SUPERMAN!  Here's how it happened in the fevered depths of my imagination.

JOR-EL, concerned about the impending demise of KRYPTON, has been observing our Earth through a space-time warp for many months.  It seems like the best choice of planets to which he can send his infant son - if and when he perfects the hyper-drive of the spaceship he's working on.  He's already built a prototype, but needs to test it before he can risk using it as a space ark for little KAL-EL.

So, donning a replica suit of 20th century Earth-style clothes, he rockets to our planet with the intention of confirming that it would be a suitable environment for his young son.  He crash-lands in the African jungle, but although uninjured, a small radiation leak from the ship's hyper-drive power unit transforms him into a hulking brute of incredible strength and limited intellect, who comes to be known as The MISSING LINK.  Exposed once more to leaking radiation from a nuclear power plant, he returns to normal, but with no recollection of who he is.

If you're familiar with the Johnny Future strips from reading them in Fantastic back in the '60s, then you already know the rest.  However, what you didn't know (until now) is that, after his 'career' as a superhero on Earth for many months, Jor-El's memory returns and he makes his way back to the jungle to repair his ship and return to Krypton mere seconds after he left.  (Due to that ol' space-time warp, remember?) The rest, as they say, is history.

However, there's more.  Writer JERRY SIEGEL originally envisioned Superman being rocketed to Earth, not from Krypton, but from a doomed Earth far in the future.  Similarly, in my version of events, Earth is Krypton (having evolved over thousands of years and - due to an ever-expanding universe - now occupying a different place in the heavens than it used to).  The globe has been renamed and our once bright yellow sun has succumbed to the second law of thermodynamics (entropy) and is now a fiery red, affecting the gravitational pull of the planet.

So - Earth's first 'superman' is actually Superman's father.  Johnny Future sired The Man of Tomorrow!

Anyway, that's how it happened in my little world.  Bear it in mind when you finally get your hands on the eagerly-awaited upcoming collected edition of this fondly-recalled strip, written by ALF WALLACE and illustrated by the astounding LUIS BERMEJO - it may make you view the character just a little bit differently.

Below is what's probably only a temporary 'working' cover for the purpose of facilitating pre-orders on AMAZON.  Click here for details.


All images copyright their respective owners

The Mighty BARRY PEARL has done it again - but this time he has surpassed himself.  Barry examines the origins of what is known the 'Graphic Novel', and his diligently-researched post may well surprise you.  Don't take my word for it - read it and see for yourselves.


What was the first Graphic Novel?

The first illustrated or "picture" stories were probably done in hieroglyphics thousands of years ago and signed by Stan Lee.  The term Graphic Novel,  as it applies to the "long-form comic book", was coined in November 1964 by Richard Kyle in Capa-alpha #2, a newsletter published by the Comic Amateur Press Alliance.  As with the term "Film Noir", Graphic Novel is a term applied retroactively.  Since the 1970s the term Graphic Novel has often been used to mean comic books for older people.

It is interesting that Classics Illustrated, which adapted novels into comics, is not a factor in the Graphic Novel's development, although they could have been its logical first step.  And so could have Milt Gross' He Done Her Wrong! from 1930.  But while Gross's book does tell a story graphically, he uses no words whatsoever, so it is graphic, but really not a novel.

The Graphic Novel came into its own in the mid-1970s.  These novels would no longer be orphans at the newsstands when comic book stores began to flourish.  In the mid-1970s readers could see that Marvel's creators were looking for something more than an episodic comic.  By this time, Jack Kirby was outgrowing the comic book medium and seemed to be searching for something more complex and less collaborative.  Steve Ditko, in his 170-page story arc starting in Strange Tales #130 (Mar 1965), also seemed to be distributing a Graphic Novel into his ten monthly Doctor Strange pages.  Jim Steranko's story, "Dark Moon Rise, Hell Hound Kill!" in Nick Fury #3, was also a forerunner, showing the format, but not the length, of what could come.  When Steranko created his first true graphic novel, "Chandler", he had to find another publisher.

Comics, like TV shows, had mostly been episodes in a series, each edition or each comic having a beginning, middle and an end.  A novel does not have episodes, it has chapters that seamlessly build on previous chapters and they cannot exist separately as an episode does.

What is a Graphic Novel and what should we look for in one?  We need to go back to the mid-1800s, when Rodolphe Topffer, a Swiss innovator of the comic strip, described the essential nature of a picture story.  Topffer understood that the drawings and the text must be symbiotic:

"The drawings without their text, would have only a vague meaning;  the text, without the drawings, would have no meaning at all.  The combination of the two makes a kind of novel, all the more unique in that it is no more like a novel than it is like anything else."  In 1837, Topffer published what many consider to be the first comic book, The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck (Les Amours de M. Vieux Bois) which he wrote and drew.  In America it was published as a newspaper supplement.

A Graphic Novel should be both graphic and a novel.  The Oxford English Dictionary says that a novel is:  "a fictitious prose narrative or tale of considerable length (now usually one long enough to fill one or more volumes), in which characters and actions representative of the real life of past or present times are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity."  Therefore, a Graphic Novel should contain illustrations that help tell a longer, involved and complete story.  However, The Oxford English Dictionary defines the Graphic Novel as a "full length story published as a book in comic strip format."  It demotes "novel" to story and illustration to "comic strip" because that is the way we use this term.  I do not know why some of their significance is lost when both words are combined.

Jim Steranko and many others claim that a graphic novel cannot contain word balloons.  As such, Steranko calls them "fat comics".  He has a point that, many times, publishers put out trade paperbacks filled with long or collected comic book stories and call them "graphic" novels, when they are just fat comics.  But for me, whether the text is in balloons or at the bottom of the page (as Hal Foster did in Prince Valiant), what is important is that they are dependent on each other to tell the story.  We should recognize the difference between a fat, well-bound comic and a Graphic Novel.  A Graphic Novel should be self-contained, and not a "collected" edition of several short stories.

In 1976, Bloodstar (Morningstar Press) gave us an early indication.  The cover said the book was "a science fiction/fantasy adventure in words and pictures."  In addition, Bloodstar "is a new, revolutionary concept -- a graphic novel, which combines all the imagination and visual power of comic strip art with the richness of the traditional novel."  The story was illustrated and adapted by Richard Corben from an original story by Robert E. Howard.

Many feel that the modern graphic novel was born in 1950 when "It Rhymes With Lust!" by Arnold Drake, Leslie Waller and Matt Baker was published by Archer St. John.  It was described as a "picture novel."  Even in 1950, Arnold Drake saw the medium as one for adults:

"As we worked with the comics form, we reasoned that for the ex-GIs who read comics while in the services and liked the graphic style of storytelling, there was room for a more developed comic book -- a deliberate bridge between comic books and book-books.  I… came up with the logo that would adorn the cover: a paintbrush and a pencil crossed over a book cover and the letters PN, for Picture Novels. What we planned was a series of Picture Novels that were, essentially, action, mystery, Western and romance movies ON PAPER.  The trouble came when it was time to market it.  There would be no space on the stands for this one odd-ball-product.

This (and the cover sketch above) is Arnold Drake's
layout for 'It Rhymes With Lust'.  (Originally called
'One Man Too Many' in its draft stage)

"I don't think there is much question that "It Rhymes with Lust" was the first graphic novel.  It wasn't a stumbling, accidental creation.  Les and I knew exactly what we set out to create.  The fact that it was essentially a ‘B Film’ on paper, rather than the more sophisticated products that came 25 years later and called themselves ‘Graphic,’ speaks to the change in the readership over those years.  The sons and daughters of the veterans who went to school on the GI Bill were a very different market than the one that Les and I dealt with back then.  I have no idea what the first Picture Novel would have been had we had that broader, deeper audience."

St. John also published a second Graphic Novel, "The Case of the Winking Buddha"but sales of both were weak and the line was discontinued.

In 1955, EC published Picto-Fiction which was inspired by Big Little Books.  It was another example of illustrated stories, not novels, trying to reach an older audience.

Let us not confuse the Graphic Novel with the format that it was originally presented in.  When Charles Dickens wrote many of his books they were published as serials, chapter by chapter, in magazines.  This approach to marketing novels was common in the nineteenth century.  If we keep this fundamental point in mind, then it is not very difficult to accept that Kirby's pre-history of the graphic novel begins with Tales of Asgard which started in Journey into Mystery #97 and ended in issue #145.  It is 245 pages.

Gil Kane would publish two stories that had great influence in developing graphic novel concepts:  "His Name is... Savage!" (1968) and "Blackmark" (1971).

The first, full, graphic novel that I read was "Chandler: Red Tide" by Jim Steranko in 1977.  It was a hardboiled detective story intended for adults. It was exciting and extremely well written, drawn and designed.  Like Lust, it had the look and feel of a film noir movie.  Its look, form and subject matter have helped jump-start the genre and obviously influenced the creators of "Sin City" and "The Road to Perdition".  Jim Steranko observed:  "When the book appeared it was not embraced by the comic-book community because it didn't have word balloons or captions."  In other words, it was not a comic book, it was truly a graphic novel.  Steranko did not create the Graphic Novel, he merely perfected it.

Byron Preiss, Chandler's publisher: "RED TIDE was an original, mass-market adult crime novel created to retail at American newsstands alongside hundreds of other paperback offerings… It supported its claim to be a graphic novel by adopting the use of continuous text and chapter breaks in traditional literary fashion, with all story pages featuring two panels, the size of which remained constant throughout the volume.  Standard comic-book devices, such as captions and dialogue balloons, were not employed.  The unique text-and-image format was used here for the first time.  Rather than using typical comics' storytelling, Steranko developed a narrative approach that mirrored the noir films of the 1930-40s and an illustration style that utilized both a hard and soft-edged treatment (without an inkline or feathering) that approximated cinematic photography, a technique that took RED TIDE another step away from comics.

Fiction Illustrated had earlier published two books that might easily be mistaken for graphic novels.  The first, "Schlomo Ravenby Tom Sutton was a light-hearted detective novel.  It had a style reminiscent of Will Elder's work in Mad.  A second book, "Starfawn" by Stephen Fabian, was a science fiction comic book for adults and was told in a traditional comic book style, complete with dialogue balloons.

The term Graphic Novel appeared on the title page and on the dust jacket.  Will Eisner's "Contract With God" (1978) is an enjoyable, absorbing tale that is a big step toward serious, adult graphic stories.  It was written soon after the tragic death of Eisner's own daughter.  It is not really a graphic novel - it wasn't long or detailed enough, it was a graphic memoir or short story.

"Maus: A Survivor's Tale" is a memoir by Art Spiegelman and is a great example of what a Graphic Novel can be.  It tells the story of Spiegelman's father who survived the Holocaust, but he uses cats and mice as the central characters.  In 1992 it won a Pulitzer Prize Special Award.  A small part was reprinted by Marvel in a black and white magazine, Comix Book in 1977.

Could Marvel and DC have produced graphic novels, or comic series?  We have a hint with Kirby's Eternals and New Gods.  I'd like to feel that the medium has evolved and has grown in the last few decades.  When I see the term "graphic novel" I hope to get more than just a long comic book story.  I would like to see stories "in which characters… are portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity" where the pictures and text are both necessary to tell the story.  There should be more experimentation as we have seen in Chandler and Maus.

Captain Marvel is correctly regarded as Marvel's first Graphic Novel.  It dealt with death in an adult manner that removed it from the typical comic book demise, albeit not without the comic book melodrama that goes hand in hand with any serious topic.  It had a beginning, a middle and a conclusion that you usually don't find in comics.  The Graphic Novel must take us to places we cannot go in a comic book.  As our expectations mature we anticipate more.  Yes, there are bad Graphic Novels and they should not be confused with "fat" comics.

So what was the first Graphic Novel?  Other than satisfying a creator's ego, it probably does not matter.  There are no "Firsts" in Comics.  Many concepts, thought to be original when used by the major publishers, may have first appeared earlier in the more obscure ones, not available on local newsstands.  Comics were published internationally and American historians tend not to consider them.  So if you read and enjoy "a fictitious prose narrative or tale of considerable length… portrayed in a plot of more or less complexity" it's a Graphic Novel.

So the first Graphic Novel is the one you read first - whether it had dialogue balloons or not!


Okay, Criv-ites, don't let me down.  Barry has put a lot of work into this post, even supplying the images, so be sure to leave a comment showing your appreciation.  Just think - if not for Barry, you'd be stuck with reading something by me!  (Yeah, doesn't bear thinking about, does it?)
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