Flame On A Great Cover

Sorry for not writing in a while. I just ended up taking most of December and all of January off. I have no excuse. No explanation, other than just needing a break.

But let’s get back to it with a great cover. This one caught my eye when I was filing away new arrivals at Nostalgia Zone.

It is Fantastic Four #353 (June 1991) which was drawn and inked by Walt Simonson, whose simple linear style is instantly recognizable. His use of line is very disciplined, especially when compared to the big flashy artists of the 90s comics boom. Some of those other artists were all about the lines and lots of them.

When I look at Simonson’s work it’s hard for me to link him to any influences he might have had. There’s some Jack Kirby in there, but what comic book artist doesn’t have some of the King in their style? Maybe a hint of Joe Kubert and more than a little Joe Staton, but Simonson, to my eyes, is his own artist.

This particular cover shows how well Walt used his lines. The Human Torch is drawn in the classic flame-on look, which is all about the lines and Simonson uses them so effectively in defining the form of our hot-headed hero. Even the motion burst straight lines of the background work.

I love the sharp angle turns of the Torch’s trailing flames. The sharp angles give the impression he is moving at a much greater velocity than the typical rounded paths drawn by other artists. It is a subtle effect that really works.

And there is the expertly handled force perspective. The Torch pops right off the page. He is flying directly at us! It all looks right, too. From the exaggerated hand to that tiny foot. It’s not always to easiest thing to do to draw in forced perspective. There are other fine artists who can struggle to make it look right. Walt makes it look right.

Let’s not forget Simonson’s famous signature, which might be the best in comic books.

That’s a great signature and this is a great cover.

Packing Peanuts!

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Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Please check out our eBay page, as well. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on Apple Podcasts.

A Quick Great Cover By John Buscema

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Marvel Comics’ Fantastic Four #112 (July, 1971). The Hulk versus The Thing. Drawn by the great John Buscema and inked by Frank Giacoia.

‘Nuff said!

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Well, OK, I suppose I should say some more.

John Buscema is hard to beat. He helped advance the look of comic book art by combining the dynamic excitement of Jack Kirby with a stronger grasp of anatomy. His storytelling skills were top notch. And there was also a gracefulness to his characters, as his nuanced work on Silver Surfer and in his introduction of the Vision in The Avengers #57 (October, 1968).

But he was also an artist of action and could create excellent tension. You can see that in this month’s great cover. Buscema has done a number of covers that are variations of what we see here. I’ve written about a couple of them already (here and here) and I can think of at least one more that will be covered in the future.

I’m sure this was a quick cover for him to draw, but that doesn’t take away from its greatness.

An Update on Nostalgia Zone

Nostalgia Zone is still here. We are not open for in store shopping, but we are still taking orders online and are trying to get them turned around as quickly as possible. New inventory is being entered into our online catalog (www.nostalgiazone.com) We appreciate our online customers’ patience as we try to fulfill orders in a timely fashion.

We also appreciate and our hearts are warmed by all those who have reached out to us to make sure we are OK. We are.

We are trying to work out how to reopen the store to our customers in a way that will be safe during the pandemic. Hopefully, there will be news on that front soon.

Thanks to all our customers for your continued support. We love you guys! You’re the best!

Stay safe!

Packing Peanuts!

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Images used under Fair Use.

Warehouse Find is the official blog of NostalgiaZone.com, where you can find books, games, toys, cards, and a huge selection of Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern Age comic books. Jim also has a podcast called Dimland Radio. He’d love it if you checked it out. It’s available on iTunes.

This Month’s Great Cover: Fantastic Four 143

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Just look at it. What more could you want from a comic book cover?

You know, one thing I like about this first blog of the month for Warehouse Find is: I don’t really have to write much. The first week of each month I feature what I think is a great  (or, at least, important) cover from the world of comic books. All that pretty much needs to be done is post the image and say, “Ain’t it great?!”

Well, I’ll give you a little more than that. This month’s cover is the third Fantastic Four cover to be featured. The first was the premier issue of that vitally important comic book. It wasn’t a particularly great cover, but it was a good one by the King, Jack Kirby, and it changed the tone of comic books forevermore. The second cover depicted a desperate Thing searching through fiery debris for the Human Torch as drawn by John Byrne. He’s the Human Torch, why worry about him being in fiery debris? It’s a head scratcher.

This month’s cover is also the second entry drawn by the great Gil Kane. As I noted when I wrote about that other cover by Mr Kane, it is clear why he did so many covers in those days. His work was awesome!

So, we’ve got the First Family of Marvel Comics (sans the Invisible Girl, she may have been on maternity leave or something, so the Inhuman Medusa was filling in for her) battling their arch foe Dr Doom. Dr Doom just might be the greatest comic book villain this side of The Joker and he’s giving the Human Torch quite a blast. The Ever Lovin’ Blue-eyed Thing has just broken his chains and declared it’s clobberin’ time. Sure, he doesn’t say it, but we know he’s saying it. Mr. Fantastic is doing his stretchy thing, while Medusa has that snazzy red hair. All right, that last thing was a tad uncalled for, but I do like red hair. Kane includes a bit of the futuristic machinery Doom always employed. And just what is the button he’s pushing going to do?

“Get set for the greatest battle issue ever!”

What’s not to love?!

Packing Peanuts!

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Power Records Presents…

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Spider-Man

“Power Records presents…”

Those were usually the first three words you would hear when you played the record of the comic book and record set published by Power Records. And it was always exciting to hear those three words. Hearing them meant the comic book in your hands was about to come alive. There would be professional voice actors, music, sound effects, and that little ping sound letting you know to turn the page.

There were comic/record sets for Marvel and DC Comics. There were sets for Spider-Man, the Hulk, Capt. America, and the Fantastic Four. As well as Superman and Batman. And there were sets for Werewolf By Night, Dracula, Man-Thing, and Frankenstein’s Monster. Planet of the Apes and Star Trek had their sets, too!

In the mid 1970s, these were coveted items for young comic book collectors. I may have had Capt. America and the Hulk, but my friend had the Fantastic Four.

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The Fantastic Four

Many of these were taken from actual comic books from the day, but plenty of them were created specifically for these sets. The great Neal Adams was the illustrator for many of those made exclusively for Power Records. The art in Adams’ books is naturally terrific if not always accurate. In the Star Trek book Passage to Moauv Lt. Uhura was displayed as a white, blond woman and Mr. Sulu had become a black man. And Yeoman Prentiss became a man. The names weren’t changed.

Strange.

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Star Trek

Those weird changes aside, these were awesome!

YouTube has many of Power Records’ titles posted with video of the pages of these excellent comics. You’re gonna want to check ’em out. Below is a list of some of my favorites…

The Curse of the Werewolf

Captain America

The Monster of Frankenstein

The Hulk

That’s just a few. There are many more.

Packing Peanuts!

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This cover changed the world…

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No, I don’t think the headline overstates it. If a frustrated young comic book writer hadn’t taken his wife’s advice back in the early 1960s, today’s world would be very different.

As Stan Lee tells it, he had become frustrated working on Western, Romance, and Monster comic books and was thinking about quitting. He confided in his wife, as husbands always should (right, Honey?), about his wanting to leave and she suggested before he quit he should write something he really wanted to write. He was going to quit anyway, why not give it a shot?

That’s how the world got the Fantastic Four, which lead to one of the greatest outpouring of creative content ever. Stan Lee, teamed up with Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, began cranking out an entire universe of superheroes, the likes of which had never been seen before. It was a marvelous universe to behold.

And the Fantastic Four was the Big Bang.

So, let’s look at the cover, shall we? This is the second installment of my monthly look at comic book covers that I love. Or really like. Or have a certain fondness for. I mean, I don’t wanna marry them. I’m already married. That would be bigamy.

Anyway, the cover of this historic comic book was illustrated by Jack Kirby (who else?!). It’s not his most visually exciting effort, but he does what is necessary to introduce the reader to these new characters.

Kirby chose to keep Reed Richards (Mr. Fantastic) and Sue Storm (Invisible Girl) in their civilian clothes, I think, in order to play up Marvel’s angle that their superheroes were real people with everyday real world problems. It was that angle that made Marvel’s characters so much more interesting and identifiable than DC’s characters at the time. DC got better. Competition does that.

There is a monster on the cover (two if you count The Thing), so Lee didn’t completely abandon the monster themes. And one of Kirby’s strengths was his monster creations. Even in my younger days of not really liking The King’s work, I did like his monsters. They were awesome.

And then there’s the dialogue. Well, again, what the characters are saying is mainly meant to introduce them to the reader. Each of their names is mentioned either by themselves or one of the other teammates.

It was also a long time practice in comic book writing to end nearly every sentence with an exclamation point. Unless someone was asking a question, everyone was speaking very urgently. That overuse of the exclamation points did eventually subside.

I find a couple things curious about the cover. One is how the banner box with each of the FF’s hero names (fully exclamation marked, of course) makes it sound as though the members of this group had been in other magazines prior to being teamed up in this one. It’s just a minor awkwardness. I’ll live.

The other curiosity I have is just how did Mr. Fantastic end up in those ropes? Surely, the monster didn’t tie him up. Were he and Sue up to something a little kinky perhaps?

You know, with his stretching ability and her invisibility, things could have gotten very interesting…

Packing Peanuts!

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One Mystery Solved, Another Opened…

Earlier this week, my Facebook friend Michael Noble asked for my help in identifying a few characters on the shirt you see below.

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He asked about the characters in row two, column four; row three, column four; and row four, column three. (I should make sure it is clear that rows are horizontal and columns are vertical.) The first two fellows in question were clearly members of Marvel’s Inhumans, but I wasn’t sure of their names. A quick search of the internets and I was able to put names to faces. The fellow with the green headgear is Karnak and the one with the odd looking tiara is Gorgon.

But that third fellow. Hmm. Nick Fury came to mind, but there’s no eye patch. Ben Grimm in an un-Thing state maybe, but a further search revealed the hair was wrong.

There was that Native American character who hung with the Fantastic Four for a while. What was his name? Some help from people on the Nostalgia Zone’s Facebook page provided the name: Wyatt Wingfoot.

Hmm. But was it him? I did more image searching and found that Wingfoot’s hair was a black, not brown as on the shirt. He also was drawn with a prominent widow’s peak. I wasn’t sure. It was probably him, but I just couldn’t tell.

Enter Michael Oachs, a FB friend of the Nostalgia Zone. He had been able to hunt down the source of many of those superhero portraits. He posted to the comments thread the cover of Fantastic Four number 54. That was a tremendous help!

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With the issue number now known, I was able to determine that Wyatt Wingfoot was part of the story of that comic book. And on the cover you can see that Wingfoot’s hair is black, not brown. The widow’s peak may not have been prominent, but it was clear now just who that character was.

Mystery solved.

However, that opened another mystery. Specifically, why was Wingfoot, a secondary character, included but not the Invisible Girl? (Early days of comic book sexism there, she later became the Invisible Woman.) After all, she is a major character and she is on that cover. Why not include her?

Captain America, the Silver Surfer, the Falcon, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Thor, and Wolverine round out the characters not included on the cover of FF #54. And, to be thorough, the names of the remaining cast are: Triton, Mr. Fantastic, Karnak, the Thing, Black Bolt, Gorgon, Black Panther, the Human Torch, and Wyatt Wingfoot.

The makers of that design could have easily nixed Wingfoot, slid Spider-Man in that spot, and added the Invisible Girl where ol’ Spidey had been. That way there would be an entire column with the members of the Fantastic Four. Makes sense, doesn’t it? I suppose that wouldn’t make the multitudes of Wyatt Wingfoot fans very happy, but it would make more sense.

I thought the shirt was a relic of the ’70s, an item stuck away in Mr. Noble’s closet for many years. But, I was wrong. It turns out the shirt was purchased from a Target store within the last 15 years or so. Not a spring chicken of a shirt, but still fairly recent.

Which means this shirt was made well after Marvel realized calling her the Invisible Girl was demeaning and belittling of the most powerful member of the Fantastic Four. (Writer/illustrator John Byrne was responsible for her name change and explored her powerful potential when he worked on the title in the 1980s.) I find that Target or whomever was responsible for the shirt using just male characters to the point of excluding a major character for a minor one a little disturbing.

Must be the patriarchy.

Packing peanuts!

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