posted on June 24, 2017
I just received notification that my consignment of the Batom Comic covers being entered into the 2017 November 16-17 Comics Signature Auction scheduled to take place in Beverly Hills. Pictured above, a Heritage Auctions grader and consignment director works on entering lots into the Heritage system. For more information on the auction and to see the Batom Comics covers revealed so far, just click on the Gallery section on this site.
Flash Fridays – The Flash #170 May 1967
posted on June 23, 2017
What we have here is another gorgeous Infantino/Anderson art job in the service of a not my favorite kind of cover. I like my covers to be filled with a splashy bravura and over-the-top confrontations between a hero and a villain, and, with a villain like Abra Kadabra, the fiend from the future, the graphic possibilities were certainly there to pull something like that off. The story itself by Gardner Fox is just what you could want with Carmine Infantino’s art never looking better. The tale is replete with mysterious happenings and mystery men and is a perfect example of the mature Silver Age Flash style complete with hands pointing to people and events in the story from nearly every caption box.
The tale opens with Barry and Iris attending a play in which an actor playing Merlin does some amazing magic tricks and then telepathically reveals to Barry that he knows that Barry is the Flash. Barry, as the Flash, decides to follow the actor after the play and, in turn, is followed by three strange men. After trailing the actor to a ceramics shop where the Flash foils a robbery, he’s given a ceramic piece as a reward by the shop owner which has the effect of causing him not to recognize crimes in progress (and thus we justify the cover). Well, it turns out that the actor from the play, and the shop owner were both AK in disguise, and it also turns out the mystery men were the Flash, Doctor Fate and Dr. Mid-nite from Earth-Two. Doctor Fate had picked up an evil emanation from the future on Earth-One traveling back through time (and we all know what that was) and they all came to help that dimension’s Flash deal with it. Together they set off to capture AK and help the Flash undo the spell that’s been put on him, during which we get to see all of the powers of the Justice Society members on display. For us Silver Agers, it was always fun to see the Golden Age heroes show up and show off in The Flash. In the end, back home as the evening winds down for Barry and Iris, we find him still undecided about telling Iris that he’s the Flash. All in all, it’s a taut tale tightly told. What more could you want? Except a better cover maybe.
Epilog: Abra Kadabra now knows the secret identity of the Flash. Usually when a superhero’s secret identity is revealed in a story, at some point the writer will cover his tracks with something like: “And there was a solar flare that wiped the memory from everyone’s minds.” But I’ve been over this story with a finely combed tooth and there’s nothing like that in there. So. Abra Kadabra now knows the secret identity of the Flash. Just sayin’…
Match to Flame – 45
posted on June 21, 2017
If I may, let me step back for a moment here to reflect on the role that luck has to play in determining whether a strip gets picked up for syndication or not. It’s huge. It’s enormous. It’s megagoogle enormous. Much like TV networks, the syndicates are always doing their best to try to tap into what they perceive as the prevailing American zeitgeist. It’s not an easy task for them or for the hopeful cartoonist. The trick then is to somehow show up with exactly what they’re looking for on the exact day that they’re looking for it. The odds are pretty slim, a fact I try not to think about too much lest I get the shakes retroactively (there are times when being young and ignorant is not necessarily a bad thing). Sometimes the syndicates are right and sometimes they’re wrong. Remember, these were the same syndicates that all took a pass, some more than once, on Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s Superman submission, a character destined to become the most popular cartoon creation ever. So it’s a dice roll.
And then there are times when the syndicates are simply right. Orbit probably set some kind of speed record for being turned down by a syndicate. I handed the mailman my package of strips and he handed me the rejection letter, or so it seemed. The perceived wisdom was that the time had passed for science fiction on the comics pages, and that to try to bring it back would be a fool’s errand not unlike that of Don Coyote trying to tilt against the Roadrunner. Even with the success of Star Wars happening then, comic strips would not be regaining their former glory as a home for speculative fiction and bravura adventure. As if to highlight that point in Day-Glo yellow, NEA and my old mentor Flash Fairfield did bring out an SF strip called Star Hawks helmed by the crazy good team of science fiction writer Ron Goulart and comic book artist Gil Kane, but even a strip with that distinguished pedigree could survive only a short while. Flash, bless his heart, was living in the same it’s gone, forget about it, it ain’t never coming back past that I was. So much for going with your heart. It wouldn’t be until well into the next millennium that I’d finally get to sate my science fiction jones in the comics with a character that I’d created in the fifth grade.
From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Three