Tuesday, November 8, 2011


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1684:

Setting the Standard: Comics by Alex Toth 1952-1954 [Fantagraphics;
$39.99] collects the entirety of Toth’s work for Standard, a comics
publisher that closed up shop in 1954.  There will be some readers
of this column who have never heard of Standard, which did a little
bit of this and a little bit of that for about a dozen years or so.
There will some readers, far fewer I hope, who don’t know much or
even anything about Alex Toth.  However, if you fall into either of
those camps, trust your friendly neighborhood Tipster on this one.
Setting the Standard is a major book in our field.

Toth, a thinking man’s artist, approached these anthology stories
in three dimensions.  He would read the scripts - and they weren’t
all gems - over and over again, looking for moments and scenes that
could elevate the emotional and visual content of these stories of
romance, horror, and war. Few artists have ever gotten as much out
of a script as Toth did in these 62 stories, digitally restored and
cleaned for their appearance here.

Edited by Greg Sadowski, Setting the Standard introduces Toth via
Bill Spicer’s legendary 1966 interview with the feisty, opinionated
artist.  It includes the history and notes on every story.  Toth’s
comments and Sadowski’s insights will have great value to artists,
but there are likewise lessons for writers to learn.  There’s one
Toth quote that will hopefully haunt every script I write from here
until they pry my cold dead fingers from my keyboard:

“How do comic book friends and colleagues and lovers, and parents
with their kids, express good and loving feelings?  Think about it
- so rare an event in comic book fare - positive emotions -why so?
Do your characters relate to each other? Touch? In ways other than
the usual punching and pounding superjock jazz wipe-outs?  Is that
the limit? Little things mean a lot - friendly hugs and shoulder
pats and evident body English when two or more characters relate in
a scene or throughout a story - as we do in our own lives.”

Setting the Standard is one of those must-have books for anyone who
is serious about comics and the creation of comics.  It’s a perfect
gift for an artist or a writer.

ISBN 978-1-60699-408-5
I subscribed to Heritage Magazine for the Intelligent Collector on
a whim.  I’d recently signed up on the Heritage site to investigate
the possible value of original art I had rediscovered in my - say
it with me - Vast Accumulation of Stuff.  A subsequent newsletter
offered a three-issue subscription to the magazine for $21 with the
cost of shipping included.  With a cover price of $9.95, I thought
that was a good price and well worth spending to indulge my slight
interest in high-end collectibles. When the Summer/Fall 2011 issue
arrived, I upgrade “good price” to “great price.”

Heritage Magazine is a big [11" by 9"] beautiful publication with
writing that is both entertaining and informative and photos that
are glorious to behold.  I flipped through the magazine excitedly,
then settled down to read those pieces in which I was interesting.
That turned out to be most of them.

The cover feature on John Wayne and the once-in-a-lifetime auction
of items from his personal property offered a fascinating look at
the man behind all those great films.  Because I feel like sharing,
I’m mention that Wayne was the star of my all-time favorite movie,
The Quiet Man, and that no actress ever looked more beautiful than
Maureen O’Hara, his co-star in that classic. My enjoyment of this
section was enhanced by the personal recollections of Ethan Wayne,
the actor’s son, on growing up with a legend, as well as a pull-out
poster of magnificient movie posters. 

The magazine covers auctions and prices over an impressive range of
collecting interest: comics, coins, guitars, history, signatures,
sports memorabilia and more. It’s a great magazine to have around
for reading now and then, perfect for those times when you need a
few minutes off from your busy life.  I think a subscription to the
magazine would be a suitable and welcomed gift for a whole bunch of
people on your holiday shopping list.

Every one knows the Batman.  Not nearly enough people know Michael
E. Uslan, executive producer of all the Batman films from Batman to
The Dark Knight Rises...and they should.  Which is why I recommend
The Boy Who Loved Batman [Chronicle Books; $29.95], Uslan’s breezy
account of a comics fan’s quest to bring his favorite character to
the big screen.  The book is equal parts autobiography, comic-book
history, cultural anthropology, and inspirational guide to hanging
on to one’s dreams and, more importantly, keeping at them until you
make them reality.  It is the saga of a life well spent and a life
far from over.  I don’t know what other triumphs Uslan will achieve
in years to come.  I just know triumphs there will be.

ISBN 978-0-8118-7550-9

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2011 Tony Isabella

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