Just Newsprint 
(The Simple Comic Newsletter)
Issue #21

Table of Contents
01 The Cat Came Back!
02
Give Them More and More
03
Top 10 List
04
Comics and Rock n Roll
05
Bargain Bin Bonanza
06 Site of the Month
07 Classic Ad of the Month
08
Conclusion

 


The Cat Came Back!

They say cats have nine lives. Well, in the comic industry this is true as the classic Felix the Cat has returned again! This time the classic cat is under the self titled company, Felix Comics. The book carries a $2.25 cover price, which isn't too bad for a comic these days. It is in black and white and all the stories are wrestling related. There is even an interview with Sgt. Slaughter of WWF fame. All in all, a nice package for Felix the Cat fans and comic fans in general.

The first story deals with Felix wrestling some intergalactic wrestlers and is quite imaginative and downright silly, but that is what we expect from Felix. The second story is a two pager with the professor teaching us some wrestling tips. This is by far the weakest of the three stories. The last story deals with Felix dreaming of being a wrestler and is my favorite of the three stories.

If you are a fan of Felix, you will enjoy the book. You get alot of reading for your money and will have a good time. If you never experienced the kooky cat with the magic bag, this may be as good a time as any to experience Felix for the first time. He is one of the classic cartoon icons! More information on the comic book and lots of cool Felix memorabilia can be found at the following website:

http://www.felixthecat.com.

Give Them More and More!
During the 1980's-1990's the trend was to take a successful franchise and expand it. Keep adding books until the market couldn't take anymore, then try to stuff one more down their throats. While some characters were strong enough to handle a second or possibly a third title, many were not. But the comic market was expanding and they wanted to exploit it to the fullest. Soon Batman went from the traditional two titles that had been the staple for 50 years to now having 4 monthly titles, not counting Robin and Nightwing getting their own titles. They figured if you liked two Batman titles, you would love four! Ditto for Superman, who gets the award for not only adding titles, but doing it in a most confusing manner. Why keep Superman going when you can change the long running title to Adventures of Superman only to come out with a new title called Superman. Oh yeah, we also had Superman: Man of Steel and Superman: Man of Tomorrow. Add in the classic Action to the mix and you have overkill. Oh yeah, we forgot Superboy, Supergirl and the crowd pleaser, Steel. I guess it isn't too much different from when you had Lois Lane and Jimmy Olson having comics. Guess there is no shortage of demand for the Big S.

But DC didn't stop at just the two franchise titles for exploiting. Good old Green Lantern, a second tier title went from the modest one title to a whopping three! Who needs just Green Lantern when you can add Green Lantern Mosaic and Guy Gardner. This was a classic case of overkill. Please, one title is enough, possibly two with Guy having his own, but was there any need for Mosaic? I don't think so.

But one of the biggest areas of confusion in the DC Universe was the Justice League books. Back in the 1980's we started with the revival of Justice League of America. After the dismal end to the JLA with the likes of Vibe and the non-Superman Steel, we needed a big change. What we got was sheer insanity! JLA soon became Justice League International, so worldly, so welcomed. Oh wait, that's the jingle to Mastercard. Anyways, I digress, but back to the JLA. So you have the old title change, a DC favorite. They hate to leave well enough alone. But that wasn't enough, we had to add Justice League Europe to the mix. I guess being international wasn't enough. But two titles is never enough, even for a book that was always one title and one title only. No, they had to add Justice League Task Force and Justice League Quarterly. Why? So Gypsy who was left behind with the old JLA would have a job?

Don't think Marvel wasn't guilty of this excess, no they were kings of it. And nowhere is it more prevalent than in the X-Titles. Can you say absurd? I know I can. In the grand tradition of giving the people what they want and what they don't, we have a mind-numbing family of titles. Look at this storyline:

*Uncanny X-Men was popular and it begot....
*New Mutants who made a glorious run, but were not meant to be (until later, because no title remains dormant at Marvel).
*X-Factor who were really the original X-Men who were replaced by the New *X-Men which then begot....
*Excalibur who were Nightcrawler and mutants not deemed worthy of inclusion in the above mentioned books.
*During this time, Wolverine of sound mind and body decreed he needed more adventure, more excitement, his own title. So came into existence Wolverine.
*All was good in the land, until the King said, let us more more!
*On the eighth month, a new title joined the family. It was made from the ashes of the New Mutants who had given up the ghost earlier. It was to be named X-Force and the people cheered.
*A mere two months later, a new sibling joined the swelling ranks. Not to be some offshoot of the grand X name, but to be the X-Men. So now we had Uncanny X-Men and proud baby X-men with its many covers (this is Marvel's take on George Foreman who names all his sons George). This confused the masses, but they bought anyway.
*Soon the demand, real or imagined, grew to demand more. What could we do to make things more confusing? How about X-Man, a mere vowel different. That should help to satisfy the cravings. How about some X-Men Unlimited, Classic X-Men which we will rename the much wiser X-Men Classic and a few thousand mini-series to keep the subjects poor.

At least Marvel never exploited the Hulk, unless you count that awful Hulk 2099. But their other big franchise, Spiderman is a different story. His legacy is more tangled than his webs. From what I hear, they started all his titles over again, to make it more confusing. Guess Spectacular Spiderman, Peter Parker, Spectacular Spiderman and Peter Parker, Spiderman wasn't enough. This doesn't even include the Amazing Spiderman, Web of Spiderman and just Spiderman. If you bring in the even more confusing Scarlet Spider nonsense, you really have a migraine in the works. It is enough to make you wish for the simpler days when you could choose from Amazing Spiderman and Spidey Super Stories.

So as you can see, comics can be confusing. I have been selling them for 20+ years and even I get confused. And they wonder why people don't want to start reading comics, you need a college course to know what is happening and what title is what. And this doesn't even get into how all the characters are related and their origins, which is a whole different conversation.

Top 10 List
With spring in the air and the green grass returning, we honor this wonderful color this month. So with that in mind, we give you the top ten green characters in the comic industry!

10. Changeling-The Teen Titan member who could turn into any animal made things interesting in the group. From his early days with the awful name, Beast Boy to his glory days as a Titan, he was a fan favorite!

09. The Lizard-Another of Spiderman's popular villains, the lizard was as evil as he was cold blooded. He wanted Spiderman dead and would stop at nothing to accomplish this.

08. Guy Gardner-The other Green Lantern he brought attitude to the comic industry. With his big mouth and funky haircut, he was the person we loved to hate!

07. She Hulk-She gained her powers in a blood transfusion and was a bit character for years. Then John Byrne decided to revive her and gave her respect and success! Couldn't have happened to a nicer lady.

06. Martian Manhunter-The man from Mars has been aiding the Justice League for decades. With his calm demeanor and super strength, he has been a welcome asset to the group.

05. Green Hornet-From his successful run in the 1950s to his revival in the 1980's, the Green Hornet has remained a popular figure. With Kato at his side, he has stopped crime cold!

04. Green Arrow-While he was half of the very popular Green Lantern/Green Arrow, he has also managed a very successful solo career!

03. Green Goblin-Possibly Spiderman's greatest foe, the ever dangerous Green Goblin haunted the webslinger for awhile. Some of the best Spiderman issues involve the ever dangerous Green Goblin.

02. Green Lantern-You cannot say Green without mentioning Green Lantern, the lantern wielding superstar! For 60 years, he has been saving the universe with his power ring and latern.

01. The Incredible Hulk-He is big and green (well most of the time) and he is a franchise unto himself. From successful comic to TV show to a series of mediocre television movies, the Hulk has done it all!

Comics and Rock n Roll
One area where comic references are quite a few is in Rock n Roll music. There has been numerous mentions of our favorite heroes over the years. Here is a few of them and what comic character they mention.

Superman from the Kinks (guess who they mention in this song)
Sunshine Superman from Donovan (mentions both Superman and Green Lantern)
Don't Mess Around with Jim by Jim Croce (Superman and Lone Ranger)
Lullaby by The Cure (Spiderman)
Iron Man by Black Sabbath (OK, it really isn't about Iron Man, but who cares)
He is the Law by Anthrax (I think) (Judge Dredd)

Besides comic characters being mentioned in songs, many comic artists have also drawn album covers including Robert Crumb's art on the Big Brother and the Holding Company album to the glorious paintings by Frank Frazetta on the Molly Hatchet album covers. There has been many artists who lent their talents to these covers.

The characters themselves occasionally appear on an album cover (or a CD cover as is more the norm these days). A few of the most famous is the Silver Surfer on the Joe Satriani album, "Surfing with the Alien" and Judge Dredd on the Anthrax album cover.

So as you can see, there has been alot of mention of comic characters in the popular culture of Rock n Roll. While there are alot not mentioned here, it is enough to give you an idea of just how popular comics are.


Bargain Bin Bonanza

One of the popular series in the 1980's was Dreadstar from Epic Comics, a Marvel imprint. It was the series that really catapulted Jim Starlin into superstardom. While he was popular before the series, especially for his artwork on the Avengers, this series showed his talents as both an artist and a writer. Instead of dealing with an established character in an established universe, he created a whole new world and populated with all-new characters. Not only did he do this, but he succeeded admirably!

Dreadstar deals with a warrior who puts down his weapon and tries to live a life of peace. But an attack on his newly adopted home brings him back to space and to war. It deals with a crew of heroes fighting the insurmountable odds to bring peace to a war torn galaxy. It is filled with action, character interaction and gorgeous artwork.

The series was long running, first at Epic and later it moved to First Comics. It ran for 64 issues in the first run and while it lost some steam towards the end, it was a great series! It was later revived in the 1990's but it didn't meet with quite the same success. By then, people either weren't aware or didn't really care about the adventures of Vanth and the crew. But for a few years in the 1980's, he was a popular book and something that myself and many other readers looked forward to each month.

Site of the Month
Since we are talking about comics and rock n roll, here is a site that features almost all the record albums that were drawn by comic artists.  There are a ton listed and it is an invaluable site for information.  He lists each artist alphabetically with a list of all their artwork in the music field.  He also has pictures of some of the albums!  A great site and one worth checking out!  Here is the URL:

http://people.a2000.nl/ldeklerk/index2.html

Classic Ad of the Month
How many of you remember the ad to help children that featured Meatloaf?  You don't?  Well then check out the "Humongous Rock Star of the Universe" here as he tries to help the Special Olympics!  

Click Here to see ad!

Conclusion
Another month closes and I put another issue to rest.  This one was hard to do as my internet connections have been less than stellar.  But with a DSL line coming, I will finally be able to do the issue faster than before and may try to add more pictures and stuff in coming months!  So stop back next month and enjoy another fun filled issue of the simple comic newsletter.

Tom Zjaba