Archive for the ‘comic book’ Category

Friday, June 6th, 2014

Comic Books: Whack Comics And The Fine Art Of Parody

Whack Comics

A week or two ago, I was taking part in a discussion on the Cold Hard Flash blog about ripping off other artists’ work. One of the people discussing the subject brought up the concept of parody, but seemed to have no idea what actually constituted parody. The dictionary defines parody like this…

par-o-dy [par-uh-dee] noun, plural -dies, verb, -died, -dy-ing.
1. a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet’s soliloquy.

Parody should be self-evident. The Supreme Court Justice, Potter Stewart said, "I find it difficult to define obscenity, but I know it when I see it." Parody is like that too. But if you’re going to be a cartoonist, you have to be able to do more than just recognize it… you need to be able to control it and utilize it as a tool. If you succeed, you can create something that does much more than just make fun of another work- it can illuminate an otherwise unthought-of truth, making your parody a creative work that stands on its own. If you fail, you risk plagiarism.

pla-gia-rism [pley-juh-riz-uhm, -jee-uh-riz-] -noun
1. the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.

As a cartoonist, you have to know how to use parody properly. Parody is not an excuse for plagiarism. It’s important to add your own caricature and exaggeration to comment on the work you’re parodying. And your exaggeration has to make a point. The easiest way to recognize how to do that is to study and analyze other parodies. Here is an example of a comic that parodies other comics… Whack!

WEIRD CREEPY AWFUL SPOOKY GHASTLY COMICS

This story is a parody of the EC Comics horror line, which included Tales From The Crypt, Vault Of Horror and The Haunt Of Fear. If you aren’t familiar with this genre, you should check out the reprints at Amazon. There is nothing even remotely like them any more.

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

STEVE CREVICE

This parody of Milton Caniff’s Steve Canyon was created by cartoonist, William Overgard. Overgard was a friend of Caniff’s. Once, when Caniff was hospitalized, Overgard ghosted a whole week of Steve Canyon dalies so Caniff had time to recouperate. This particular copy of Whack belonged to Caniff. It was lent to us by his estate to digitize.

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

Before we get to more stories, take a look at this advertisement…

Whack Comics

It’s an an early advertisement for the Joe Kubert School. 3D comics and movies were all the rage then. Television was beginning to cut into ticket sales at theaters, and producers were looking for a technical advantage over TV to give them an edge. But the fad quickly fizzled out. Movie audiences and comic book readers were more interested in the quality of the movies and comics than the number of dimensions. Today, DVDs and digital media downloading are cutting into the traditional media markets. Some producers are beating the drum for 3D again. Let’s hope they realize soon that people are more interested in quality entertainment than formats.

The following story by Joe Kubert and Norman Maurer trumpets their publication of the world’s first 3D comic book, Three Dimension Comics in 1953. Strangely enough, the comic this was published in, Whack wasn’t in 3D!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

PARODY

In my discussion of parody so far, I’ve left something unsaid, hoping someone would pick up on it in the comments. J.J. Hunsecker was the one who finally mentioned it…

I find it kind of ironic that you’re using Whack as an example of parody, since it can also be said to be a ripoff of MAD.

It’s important to understand exactly where the line lies between fairly exploiting an existing concept and plagiarism. Whack doesn’t plagiarise Mad magazine… it simply uses the same basic format- a parody comic book. It doesn’t ripoff Mad magazine any more than Roy Rogers ripped off Gene Autry or Star Wars ripped off Star Trek. They are simply working in the same genre.

MIGHTY MOOSE

Here’s an amusing parody of Paul Terry’s Mighty Mouse. The Super Rodent himself even makes an appearance! This is a "second generation parody". Mighty Mouse himself was a parody of Superman!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

FLUSH JORDAN

Flash Gordon was also a comic inspired by the success of another similar comic. Alex Raymond created the strip to compete with Dick Calkins’ science fiction comic, Buck Rogers. Here, Flash gets "Whacked"… and Bing Crosby is dragged into the mess too!

Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics
Whack Comics

Thanks to the Estate of Milton Caniff for allowing us to digitize this great comic book.

Stephen Worth
Director
Animation Resources

Comic BooksComic Books

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

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

Monday, May 19th, 2014

Comic Books: Harvey Kurtzman’s Funny Animal Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books

Today, Kent Butterworth stopped by on his lunch break to watch Terry Bears cartoons featuring eye popping Jim Tyer animation. I realized that it’s been a while since I posted any comic book scans from Kent’s great collection of golden age funny animal comics. I’m righting that wrong right now with some great examples by Harvey Kurtzman. Enjoy! (Thanks Kent!)

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books
Kurtzman Comic Books

Animator Michael Sporn has shared a tremendous pile of Kurtzman comic collaborations with Jack Davis. Check them out!

Kurtzman and Davis: Part One / Part Two / Part Three / Part Four / Part Five / Part Six

RECOMMENDED BOOK

 Harvey Kurtzman: Mad Genius

Harvey Kurtzman had a Midas touch for talent, but was himself an astonishingly talented and influential artist, writer, editor, and satirist. The creator of MAD and Playboy’s “Little Annie Fanny” was called, “One of the most important figures in postwar America” by the New York Times. Kurtzman’s groundbreaking “realistic” war comics of the early ’50s and various satirical publications (MAD, Trump, Humbug, and Help!) had an immense impact on popular culture, inspiring a generation of underground cartoonists. Without Kurtzman, it’s unlikely we’d have had Airplane, SNL, or National Lampoon. This definitive book includes hundreds of never-before-seen illustrations, paintings, pencil sketches, newly discovered lost E.C. Comics layouts, color compositions, illustrated correspondence, and vintage photos from the rich Kurtzman archives

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 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.