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Driveway Panel

posted on July 28, 2014

Driveway Con

This past Saturday I participated in my first Driveway Con. My pal Tony Isabella and I were lamenting the fact that we weren’t going to be at Comic Con in San Diego this year when Tony got the bright idea of adding a Comic Con style panel to his Saturday Garage Con. Tony calls it something else, but I call it a Garage Con just as I did in the strips about Tony’s happening that ran in Funky this past week. The  idea was just charmingly goofy enough that I agreed to join Tony and Mike Barr on the panel. We even had our own badges, which was my only stipulation because I wanted to add it to my badge collection. I’m pretty easy like that.

Quite frankly, it played out pretty much like any other comics panel I’ve been on except that it was in Tony’s driveway. And as far as far as comic cons go it was a lot of fun. It was sort of a back to the basics comics experience with people gathering together simply for the love of comic books (although being able to buy a comic book for a quarter was I’m sure a part of it as well). Good folks to chat with, good questions for the panel, good costumes, and a good time had by all. You can’t ask for much more than that out of a comic con and I doff my baseball cap to Tony for reminding us what it’s all about.

Batom Comics – The Untold History Chapter 2

posted on July 18, 2014

Seduction Of the Innocent

The fifties were a really star crossed time to start a comic book company, and 1954 in particular was the hands down worst year in the decade. The industry was reeling from attacks by parents groups, state and local legislatures, and, in April of that year, from a Senate subcommittee. Chief architect of this war on comics was Dr. Frederich Wertham who had made it his personal crusade to banish comic books from the face of the Earth. No single individual was more responsible the downfall of a number of comic book companies, the destruction of the careers of many fine artists, and the stigmatization of an entire art form. His articles in popular magazines such as the Ladies Home Journal lit the fuse with the American public, but it was his book Seduction of the Innocent that was the biggest bombshell.

 

In his book, Wertham tried to tie the rise in juvenile delinquency in the country to the influence of comic books. It led to the aforementioned public outrage, a Senate investigation, and eventually to a self imposed censoring by the publishers themselves. The establishment  of The Comics Code Authority effectively handcuffed the efforts of the industry’s artists and writers.

 

It was into this world that batom Comics was born, the brainchild of brothers Barry and Thomas Martin. Their father ran a small printing firm in Cleveland. Chief among the varied clients of the company was the Catholic Diocese newspaper. When he passed away, along with the printing company, part of the legacy he left to his sons was a newsprint allotment contract. The brothers had no interest in running a printing company, but what they did see was an opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream, that of running a comic book company.

 

So in spite of the toxic atmosphere surrounding the comic book industry, they rented some space for editorial offices in an abandoned warehouse on West Third Street in Cleveland. The first thing their company needed was a name, and, by combining parts of both of their names, they came up with Batom Comics. The next thing they would need would be characters, artists and writers. An ad was placed in the Cleveland Press and in short order the man who would create their star character walked through the door. And so in the city where two young men had made comics history, history was about to be made again by a new pair of young men whose love for comics blinded them to the mine field that lay in their path. A true seduction of the innocent.