Saturday, June 2, 2012
THE DOOMED DECISION
by William Boyd in an incredible 66 films. Boyd’s Hopalong was a
clean-cut hero, very different from the original Hopalong Cassidy
as created by novelist Clarence E. Mulford in 1904. That original
Hopalong Cassidy is described by Wikipedia as “rude, dangerous, and
rough-talking.” Mulford wrote 28 Hopalong Cassidy novels and many
short stories. He would later revise those novels and stories to
bring them in line with his creation’s screen image.
Fawcett published 84 issues of Hopalong Cassidy and, when DC Comics
acquired the property, they continued the numbering for another 50
issues. Boyd owned the license to the character and, presumably,
the rights to these 134 comic books.
The photo cover features Boyd and his horse Topper. At present, we
don’t know who wrote the stories contained in the issue, but hard-
working comics fans and historians have identified the artists as
Joe Certa and Max Elkin.
The Grand Comics Database offers this synopsis of the cover story:
By kidnapping a judge's son, the rustling rancher forces the
judge to rule in his favor. In the other Hopalong Cassidy stories,
the cowboy hero is almost fooled by a bandit pretending to be his
own twin brother and contends with an arsonist seeking revenge on
Cassidy for the drubbing he received after Hopalong caught the man
beating a horse. Humorous back-up strips featured “Whitey Whiskers”
and “Black and White.”
More vintage comics to come.
Let’s look at some more Free Comic Book Day giveaways, commencing
with Kaboom!’s Adventure Time with Finn & Jake/Peanuts flipbook. I
wasn’t familiar with the former - I’ve seen ads for the cartoon on
TV - but that wasn’t an impediment to my reading and enjoying the
stories. It has a gentle charm with a bit of bite. I could see a
kid going for this comic book big-time. It’s not something I would
read unless I had a business reason for doing so, but, at 60 years
old, I’m nowhere near the target age group.
The Peanuts side of the flip book was more in my wheelhouse. The
classic strips by Charles M. Schultz still delight. The new stuff
by Ron Zorman, Vicki Scott, and Paige Braddock is fun. I think the
new stuff could use some tuning, but I also think Peanuts fans will
get a kick out of this title. In terms of attracting new readers
with their FCBD giveaway, Kaboom did well.
Fantagraphics’ Barnaby and Mr. O’Malley by Crockett Johnson is one
of my favorite FCBD offerings. Maggie Thompson says Barnaby, an
utterly charming strip about a young boy, his fairy godfather and
their odd friends, “may be the best comic strip you’ve never seen.”
Courtesy of a few paperback reprints back in the day, I have seen
it and loved it. While I’m sure Fantagraphics hopes to make a few
bucks reprinting the strip in five annual volumes, I think bringing
this classic comics work to new and old readers is akin to doing God’s
work. Yes, Barnaby is that good.
Every time I pick up a DC Comics comic book, I want to love it. I
want to love every comic book I pick up, but that’s only half the
reason I want to love every DC comic book. Because, when I love some
DC comic book, I don’t hear from some jerk, often some jerk working
for DC Comics, about how I just don’t like DC.
Truth be told, I don’t much like DC Comics the corporation because
of how it’s treated comics creators, including myself. And there
are a few specific people at DC I don’t much like because they are
such incredible douche bags. I also don’t much like what seems to
be too many editors expecting writers to tell the
editors’ stories or, more exactly, what those editors are
deluding themselves into thinking are stories.
I should consider playing it safe and not review DC comic books at
all, or just review the ones I like. Which is what DC and, truth
again, most comics publishers would prefer happen with their comic
books as well. But that would diminish the value of my reviews for
my readers and sully what I consider to be the honorable craft of
reviewing comic books.
I don’t assume my readers follow my suggestions blindly. I figure
they see what I like and - this is important - what I don’t like.
Then, having compared their likes and dislikes to mine, they make
informed decisions on whether or not they might like something I’ve
recommended to them.
DC Comics - The New 52 FCBD Special Edition is one of several FCBD
books to come out of DC and its various imprints. It starts with
a preview of something called the “Trinity War,” which is probably
the New 52 Universe’s first major event. Oh, goody. You know how
much I love DC and Marvel events. Whoop-de-doodle!
This event gets off on the wrong foot with me immediately, giving
the Phantom Stranger an origin and a not particularly interesting
one at that, and making the Question a mystical character. While
I wasn’t thrilled with the Ayn Rand crap that drove Steve Ditko’s
version of his creation, it was intriguing and unique and, though
Denny O’Neil did Ditko a disservice in altering the Question as he
did, those stories were also worthwhile. I do realize the New 52
characters aren’t intended to be the same as their original selves,
but messing with the basics is off-putting to me.
The long preview is followed by a handful of shorter previews for
other new DC titles. Some look interesting and some don’t. Avid
“New 52" fans will doubtless want to read the new titles and there
isn’t a blessed thing wrong with that. Good for them. Assuming DC
Comics wanted to preach to the choir with this FCBD giveaway, they
Idle queries. Are the Thunder and Lightning listed as members of
the Ravagers supposed to be Black Lightning’s kids? And shouldn’t
comics writers and editors know the definition of “ravage” well
enough to realize it’s a really dumb name for a super-hero team?
Or are these characters supposed to be rapacious villains? I may
I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella