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Flash Fridays – The Flash #195 March 1970

posted on May 25, 2018

My how things have changed. With this issue Julie Schwartz is continuing to do his level best to placate the irate Flashinados by bringing Atom artist Gil Kane over to handle the pencilling chores, Murphy Anderson and Vince Colletta to ink those pencils, and Neal Adams to pencil and ink the cover. It’s about as good a quartet of artists as you’re going to find, then or now, and, when you include writer Bob Kaniger, you’ve got the makings of a pretty special issue and then some. It was also a pretty special issue for a trio of Flash-Gram letter hacks, Irene Vartinoff, Mark Evanier, and Peter Sanderson who found themselves name-checked on the opening story’s splash page as the Flash signs autographs for fans after appearing at the Jerry Lewis Telethon. It was a natural event for DC to plug since they published the Jerry Lewis comic book (if you recall, it was original art from the Jerry Lewis comic that a certain editor there gave to me after my ill-fated visit there the previous summer  – just checking to see if you’ve been paying attention).

Kaniger’s story returns things to a smaller scope as he eschews aliens, ghosts and inter-dimensional beings in favor of the Flash being saved by a dog after some BGs blind the Flash in an attempt to help him transition from this life. When the dog is accused of murdering his wealthy master and is about to be put down, the Flash intercedes to solve the mystery and collar (ha) the the real culprits behind the murder (same guys from earlier it turns out) and saves the dog from transitioning as well. Stories don’t come in a much scope than that.

Wait… yes they do! In the issue’s second story (my, Julie certainly is trying to return to the tried and true), Mike Friedrich adeptly spins a tale about how Barry Allen overcomes his life-long fear of roller coasters in which the Flash only appears in a single panel. A very small story to be sure, but big in what it delivers. Both stories in this issue return things to a very human and relatable level which is one of the things that readers prized, and which always made this character so special.

Match to Flame 74

posted on May 23, 2018

As long as I’m at it, the whole Pop Art movement was wrong as well. The artists of the Pop Art movement treated the comics as something disposable and shallow even as they tried to emulate them. It’s a pick ’em call whether they were reflecting them or critiquing them, but in either case I had a bone to pick with their terms and conditions. It would still be awhile before comics were accepted by institutions of higher learning and elevated to the status of a legitimate art form, but from the get-go, work of genuine quality was always present and appreciated by the cognoscenti twelve years old and up. It never occurred to me that comics should be denied a seat at the art table. It was always my unshakable belief that comics could achieve substance and chronicle like any other art form what it means to be human. I bring all of this up for two reasons. One, I needed a way into this intro, and, two, I wanted to make a couple of points (it’s always nice when you can do both). I wanted to clarify my mind-set at the time the strips in this volume were being created. As I mentioned in the previous volume, my work had been slowly edging toward the idea that my characters could evolve. That their perceptions and personalities could be molded by events. In short, I wanted to introduce drama into their lives. But as I also discussed earlier, it would have to be done in the face of prescriptive expectations as well as cultural and editorial resistance. The years contained within this volume are where that process begins to gain purchase. The teen pregnancy series will provide the beginnings of an answer, but I would be tiptoeing into my sixth decade before I would truly seal the bargain I was about to make with myself. To move toward this future, I would need to look to the past with an eye toward reclaiming the full genetic code of the American comic strip.

From The Complete Funky Winkerbean Volume Five


Anatomy of a Cover Nine

posted on May 22, 2018

The Pulp naked.

The Pulp with trade dress.

The Pulp color.