Archive for the ‘comic book’ Category

Thursday, February 27th, 2014

Comic Books: Kirby and Severin in Not Brand Echh

Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh

Animation Resources supporter, Kevin O’Neil was reading one of our comic book articles earlier this week, and it reminded him of some treasures in his own stash of comics. So he came down to the archive and lent us his collection to digitize. Thanks, Kevin!

Current superhero comics (now referred to self-importantly as "graphic novels") take themselves VERY seriously. It’s rare for a publisher to allow a parody of its own characters… and unheard of for the creator himself to get the opportunity to make fun of his own creation. But back in the silver age of comics, cartoonists didn’t take themselves quite so seriously. Here we have the unthinkable… Jack Kirby and Stan Lee doing a parody of their own Fantastic Four and Silver Surfer comics for Marvel’s Not Brand Echh!

Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Not Brand Echh was a short-lived humor comic line from Marvel that parodied superhero comics. The title was derived from the term of derision used in the letters section of Marvel comics to describe competing comic book companies… "Brand Echh" was a riff on TV commercials that compared products to their competitor, "Brand X". The series ran for 13 issues from August of 1967 to May of 1969, and featured art by Bill Everett (see our recent post on Bob’s Big Boy), Roy Thomas and John and Marie Severin.

Here we have a story from the premiere issue of Not Brand Echh titled, "The Silver Burper". The plot was loosely based on the story of Fantastic Four #57 through #60… It was written by Stan Lee and drawn by the great Jack Kirby. (Inking by Frank Giacoia and lettering by Artie Simek.)

Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh

Here’s a parody that mingles the superhero universes of both Marvel and DC. Other stories in this issue lampoon Gold Key’s Magnus, Robot Fighter and Tower’s T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents.

Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh

Marie Severin is one of the underrated geniuses behind Marvel comics. She started as a colorist for EC Comics in the 1950s, where she established a reputation for creating sophisticated color schemes that raised the level of quality above the arbitrary primary and secondary colors that filled other comics at the time. She transitioned to working as an artist on the Doctor Strange and Sub-Mariner lines, but really made her mark doing parodies in Not Brand Echh and Crazy.

Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh

One of those unanswerable questions that never seems to go away (at least at gatherings of comic book nerds) is "Who would win in a battle between Batman and Superman?" Fanboys have expended many hours debating the fine points of this and other match-ups with no clear answer. But now we finally get to see the decisive outcome of a battle royale between the "Caped Crusader" and the "Web Slinger"!

Here we have a story from the second issue of Not Brand Echh titled, "Peter Pooper vs Gnatman And Rotten". It was written by Stan Lee and drawn by the Marie Severin. (Inking by Frank Giacoia and lettering by Al Kurzrok.)

Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh
Marie Severin Marvel Not Brand Echh

Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Here is another great team-up of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, "The Origin of Forbush Man".

Stan Lee Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Buy Me At AmazonMark Evanier has a new book out titled, Kirby: KIng of Comics. I haven’t had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I’m sure it’s great. Click through the link to find out about it at Amazon. If anyone out there would like to contribute a copy to the Animation Resources library, we would greatly appreciate it!

Stan Lee Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Here we have a story from the fifth issue of Not Brand Echh titled, "The Origin of Forbush Man". It was written by Stan Lee, laid out by Jack Kirby, drawn by Tom Sutton, with lettering by Artie Simek.

Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh
Jack Kirby Marvel Not Brand Echh

Animation Resources is looking for collectors of gold and silver age comic books, 50s and 60s Mad magazines, 50s Playboys, National Lampoon, etc. who would be willing to lend us their books to digitize. If you’d like to help out, contact me at… sworth@animationresources.org.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Comic Books: Crime Does Not Pay / Boy Comics

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

Yesterday, Animation Resources supporter Marc Schirmeister stopped by with a little bit of comic book history. A copy of Crime Does Not Pay from June of 1947. This particular comic book is not for the faint of heart. It’s grusome and extreme. In fact, it marks the absolute peak of comic book sadism that led to the Publishers’ Code of 1948 and the condemning of crime and horror comics by psychiatrist, Frederic Wertham in the book, Seduction of the Innocent a few years later.

Soon after this comic was published, publisher Lev Gleason decided to shift gears away from the grusome subjects and focus on a new angle in Crime Does Not Pay comics. Artist/writer Pete Morisi quoted a conversation he had with editor Charles Biro about the change in direction…

Listen, Pete, we’ve got a good thing going here, and we don’t want to lose it. I don’t want to see any blood and guts. I don’t want any violence. Just give me detail, lots of detail!

Detail of what? What am I supposed to show?

Tits!

Some things never change.

This first story by Fred Guardineer does a great job of translating the crime/noir film style to the comic medium with the maximum amount of action per page… and the maximum amount of gunplay. It also features a cameo by a cartoon version of J. Edgar Hoover!

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

What’s with that jarring comic relief strip at the end?!

This second story is over-the-line ugly in just about every way imaginable…

Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro
Crime Does Not Pay Charles Biro

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Here’s another treasure from the collection of Animation Resources supporter, Marc Schirmeister- the oddly titled Boy Comics Number 39 from April, 1942. This comic book isn’t as interesting for its art, (check out the wonky perspective on that cover!) but rather for its subject matter…

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Yes, this noir style comic written by cartoonist Charles Biro and drawn by Norman Maurer deals with the animation business! And check out the names of the incidental characters…

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Sound familiar? And the design of "B.S.", the head of NDN Studios, it a pretty clear caricature of Walt Disney!

Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman MaurerIt seems that Biro had some sort of connection to the East coast animation scene. Does anyone out there reading have more info on this unique comic book? If so, please let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: Mark Mayerson points out the Charles Biro was an animator and director at the Fleischer Studios from 1930-1936. Thanks, Mark!

Boy Comics Norman Maurer

Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Maurer
Boy Comics Norman MaurerBoy Comics Norman Mauer

Thanks to Marc Schirmeister for bringing these rare and historically important comic books to our attention! Let me know in the comments if you’d like to see more like this.

Animation Resources is looking for collectors of gold and silver age comic books, 50s and 60s Mad magazines, 50s Playboys, National Lampoon, etc. who would be willing to lend us their books to digitize. If you’d like to help out, contact me at… sworth@animationresources.org.

Crime Does Not PayCrime Does Not PayIf you are interested in pre-code crime comics, you’ll want to check out Fantagraphics’ new book, Blackjacked and Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer. It includes 24 stories culled from issues of “Crime Does Not Pay” between 1942 and 1946. You won’t believe your eyes… but make sure you hide these comics under your bed so your mom doesn’t find them!

If too much is never enough, also check out The Simon and Kirby Library: Crime, a collection of impeccably drawn crime comics by the master of the comic book, Jack Kirby.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

This posting is part of the online Encyclopedia of Cartooning under the subject heading, Comic Books.

Friday, December 13th, 2013

Theory: Big Boy and the Power of Licensing- A Cautionary Tale

Bobs Big Boy

In 1936, entrepeneur Bob Wian opened a small lunch stand. He had a brilliant, yet slightly devious idea for a hamburger. If he took a standard hamburger bun and sliced it down the middle twice, instead of once… and if he took a standard hamburger patty and divided it into two small patties… he could create a double-decker hamburger that appeared to be larger than the average without costing him any more to make. He named it the "Big Boy".

Bobs Big Boy

Wian hired pretty high school girls as car-hops and dressed them in short skirts and cowboy hats. But something was still missing…

Bobs Big Boy

One day, animator Benny Washam was lunching at Wian’s stand, doodling on placemats. Wian saw that he was a cartoonist and asked him to draw a caricature of Richard Woodruff, a chubby, apple cheeked boy who helped out at the stand sweeping up after school. Washam obliged, depicting the lad in oversized checkered overalls munching on a burger.

Bobs Big Boy

Ben Washam’s Original Design

Wian loved the doodle and gave Washam his lunch for free. Bennie gave the sketch to Wian to use as a mascot for the stand.

Bobs Big Boy

Bennie didn’t think any more of it for many years…

Bobs Big Boy
Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian turned the caricature into an empire, branding not only his hamburger stand, but a line of sauces and spices and a franchised chain of family restaurants that eventually covered the entire country. A cutened version of Washam’s doodle was plastered all over the menus, signage and television advertising.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy

Wian knew who in the family made the decisions about where to eat… It wasn’t mom and dad, it was the kids. Outside each restaurant in the chain, he placed a huge fiberglass statue of Big Boy as a beacon to attract children…

Bobs Big Boy

And cartoonists, like assistant archivists, Alex Vassilev and JoJo Baptista!

At the restaurants, Wian gave away free comic books featuring the character. Here is an extremely rare example… Big Boy comics number one from 1956. These comics were produced by Timely Comics, which later became Marvel. They were written by Stan Lee and drawn by Bill Everett. Later issues featured the work of Archie comics artist, Dan DeCarlo. Adventures of the Big Boy is one of the longest continuously running comic book lines. It’s still being produced fifty years later.

Bobs Big Boy

Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy Comic BookBobs Big Boy Comic Book
Bobs Big Boy

Years later, when Big Boy had become a familiar figure to the entire country, Washam admitted to his fellow artists at Warner Bros that he was the cartoonist who had created the character. They laughed and teased him, saying, "Benny, you should have been heir to a hamburger fortune, but no! Your lot in life is to toil day and night making animated cartoons!" They were joking, but there’s an element of truth in it. Never underestimate the power of a doodle. The Big Boy sketch that Washam traded away for a free meal in 1936 ended up selling millions and millions of dollars worth of hamburgers.

If you would like to see more Big Boy comics, let me know in the comments.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

TheoryTheory

This posting is part of a series of articles comprising an online exhibit entitled Theory.