Thursday, May 30, 2013

True Tales of a Young Comics Fan! "The Great 1976 Marvel Steal!" Bronze Age Mayhem!

And now for something completely different! Here is an all-new custom comic strip, detailing an emotional encounter I had in 1976 (at age 11) with a stack of (what then seemed like) very old Marvel comic books, a heap I had to own! Read about my reaction to those still-treasured comics, and my conscience-tossed final decision, in this fun and frivolous funny fumetti! Click below to enlarge!

Almost every comic Miss Serpico (yes, that was her name) had stowed in 
that rear cubby all came from late 1972! She said they once belonged to her 
brother, so he musta went on a one-month comic-buying kick...

It was actually fun trying to fit the 4-year old books into then-current (and 
fairly new to me) Marvel continuity ("There was a 1950s Captain America and 
Bucky?! The Vision has issues with the Grim Reaper? Neal Adams drew for Marvel?!)...
I had also never owned comics with the famed (and short-lived) Marvel "box design
covers, and loved that look then and now!

BONUS! Peer below to see the exact comics involved in the above loopy love story!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Molten Man Returns! 1973 Gil Kane Original SPIDER-MAN Comic Art!

Just weeks ago, I threw a white-hot spotlight on a fabulous 1970 Marie Severin piece of original cover art, one featuring the malicious Molten Man! Now, let's take a look further down the road, to glom this amazing cover scene from 1974, again featuring ol' Molty! This action-crammed cover was pencilled by gregarious Gil Kane, with inks by the incomparable John Romita, Sr.! To me this is how Spidey and his world should look! Drama, excitement, suspense, and danger are all bursting from this well-drawn scene, and comic covers never looked better! Click to enlarge!

Note how Kane creates a fully symmetrical design, with two horizontal figures
balancing the lower portion of the cover, Spider-Man in the top middle, flanked 

by the two holes in the wall providing a balanced background! Also: Can you 
spot the differences between the original art and the final published version? 
Look at the upper left portions of the covers!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Spectacular Sunday SPIDER-MAN 70s Strips! Peter Parker Snaps! Marvel!

Last time, we sat in a shattering stupor, as Spidey performed his second unsavory deed at the behest of his faceless female foe! Now, Peter Parker is hard-pressed to turn the tables and uncover his blackmailer, before he's forced to commit further unspeakable tasks (even murder?) for his unseen enemy! But, will Pete snap before he can overturn this sick scenario? Will more innocent folks be harmed in the meantime? And--will Carole ever forgive Peter for his imprudent accusations? More rare daily 1978 newspaper strips from Mighty Marvel and Stan Lee with John Romita, Sr.! Click below to enlarge, then web-sling over to here for the next full-color sensational installment!

Note how, in the last panel of that first strip, artist Romita juxtaposes
the "old" version of the blackmailer with her current look and role,
creating a sense of menace, foreboding, and foreshadowing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Incredible Hulk and Friends and Enemies! And How! 1980 Albert Bigley Art! Marvel Comics?!

Wow. Talk about the "big one!" Dig this repugnant painting I whipped up (in 1980 at age 15) of the ever-incredible Hulk and his cast of thousands! Inspired by the work of Jim Steranko, as well as the many wrap-around panoramic paintings that adorned such books as the HULK! magazine of the day, I wanted to include every darned Hulk friend and foe in one big (18 by 30 inch) watercolored wall-busting whopper! You can see I tried to tell the Jade Giant's tale, in a left-to-right fashion starting with his origin, his main cast (General Ross, Betty, Rick, etc.), then added his early foes, characters who appeared later in his drama-drenched strip, some of his superhero pals, even slipping in a nod to the then-current HULK CBS-TV series! Oh, to be young and have this kind of time and boundless energy again... Click to enlarge!

Note the influence of actor Bill Bixby on my depiction of "Dr. Banner!" Bixby, of course,
was then portraying the good doctor on the CBS HULK TV series!

Bonus! Click below to see a pic of me, in 2013, holding up this oversized art, displaying the size of this colossal canvas!

Al Bigley, holding aloft this 1980 watercolor-and-ink poster,
elicits reactions on the streets of Detroit, Michigan!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Batman and Robin? The "Dynamic Duo of Fun and Fudgery?!" Papa Fudge! DC Comics?!

Dig this super-strange ad for a famed chocolate snack establishment from the Myrtle Beach, South Carolina area! One enterprising entrepreneur uses well-known pop culture imagery to attract potential hungry sweet-tooth saddled shoppers, and this time, he's zeroed in on a (also strange) BATMAN AND ROBIN movie image from 1997! Here we see the Caped Crusaders repurposed as the "Dynamic Duo of fun and fudgery," all in a disturbing attempt to get laughs and loot! The canny confectioners also configured said ad to resemble a litigation-attracting comic book cover, complete with "DC bullet," and "Comics Code" seal! Click below to enlarge, fudge-fans!

Above: The inside store of the flamboyant founder
of the Fudgery, "Papa Fudge" himself!

Above: "Papa Fudge" also re-imagines other pop culture icons for his
attention-grabbing posters, such as the Hulk, seen here as the "Hunk!"

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Secret Origin of Robin! Rare 1969 BATMAN Tale! Ross Andru Art! DC Comics!

Sometimes you stumble across some very odd artifacts when perusing older comics. Below is an oddball little "Robin" short story that was surreptitiously tucked into the pages of what seemed to be yet another semi-regular BATMAN reprint volume, the kind that were common in the late 60s! In this take on the Boy Wonder's beginnings, the editors and writers take past stories, including Robin's original 1940 origin tale, and pick-and-choose the best parts, making one "canonical" final version, a practice most newer fans believe to be only a recent innovation! This senses-staggering story also features odd art by Ross Andru, later to become a long-haul SPIDER-MAN artist for rival Marvel Comics! Ross seems to have been instructed to evoke the look and feel of the "Golden Age" Batman, resulting in some strange drawings of a huge-jawed Caped Crusader and Bruce Wayne, his alter ego! Click below to enlarge each little-seen page!

Those two Batman and Robin figures that flank the title are very impressive, and
show Ross can certainly draw the "modern" Dynamic Duo as they appeared then!

Dig that Batman! Remember that, in 1969, artists were not encouraged to offer
wildly differing interpretations of characters, so imagine how this odd Golden/Silver
Age look seemed to readers at the time!

As artist Andru looks back to the original and more "serious" Batman for this tale, he's
unknowingly predicting the "Dark Knight" version that's about to return to comics, thanks
to Denny O'Neil and Neal Adams!

But, that's not all from this great treat-filled treasure! Even the letter columns were unique then! Dig that first letter, detailing the importance of DC's mags to one stressed family, caught in the midst of the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia....

One of the many reprints in the same '69 issue was "the Origin of Clayface," which originally ran in 1961, the same year as the debut of the FANTASTIC FOUR comic from Marvel! Note the similarities of Clayface to the FF's main man-monster, the Thing! Hmmmm...

BONUS! Look below to view the captivating cover that fronted this amazing overstuffed issue! At first glance, the cover art seems to be made up of vignettes direct from each story, but it's really all-new custom artwork by Bill Draut!

Monday, May 20, 2013

FANTASTIC FOUR FAQs! The Fabulous Fact-File Feature on the Freaky Foursome! See and Hear! 1974 Marvel Comics!

Back again with another inside info page on superhero origins! This time, the darling and dimpled dudes at DYNAMITE magazine help out with a 1974 fact file on the Fantastic Four! This kid's mag looks at the pace-setting "first family" of Marvel Comics, and what made them stand out from the usual crime-fighting throngs of the day! We get to see an actual excerpt from the (now very expensive to collectors) first FF issue from 1961 (only a mere 13 years old then), by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, and, tho a bit crude compared to what was to come, it displays the excitement and drama that would soon mark the FF as one of the most innovative and exciting comics around! Click below to enlarge!

This was the first issue of DYNAMITE that a 9-year-old me owned (purchased from a local
supermarket after seeing it at school book fairs, and in other kid's homes), and I bought every
subsequent issue for the "Superheroes Confidential" column alone! I was largely unfamiliar
with the FF at the time, but the above Q&A column made it clear that this comic, and
these characters, where unlike any superheroes I had ever encountered before, such as
the simpler (and less "realistic") kid-aimed crime-busters from Marvel's rival
firm, DC Comics!

BONUS! This same awesome issue came with a pull-out poster of the famed FF, and all you have to do is glance below to see said pulpy pin-up!

The above huge (16 by 21 inches) poster featured art by sensational SPIDER-MAN
artist, John Romita, Sr.! The art was originally seen that year on the cover of an
FF oversized "Treasury Edition," and would later be spotted on toy packaging, action
figure boxes, Slurpee cups, and other bits of merry Marvel merchandise!

BONUS BONUS! Click below to see me, with the above poster, along with other examples of that famed image used on past and current Marvel-related merchandising efforts!

BONUS BONUS BONUS! Click below to hear an excerpt from a 1974 (was that the year of the FF?!) Power Records FANTASTIC FOUR book-and-record set! The foursome's awe-inspiring origin is recapped in this recording, and almost matches the above 1961 comic pages word-for-word!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Stupendous 70s SPIDER-MAN Sunday Strip! "The Hunch and the Horror!" Marvel Comics!

Last time, we looked on in utter horror, as Spider-Man was blackmailed into performing his second indecent deed, all at the behest of a female foe who knows his secret identity, and is willing to reveal it to the world if the Wall-Walker doesn't snap to her every whim! Now, the action heightens as Spidey is forced to make each task more personal, and more dangerous, than the last! How far will the superhero go to protect his well-guarded secret? Will he tumble to his faceless foe's identity and location before he has to go too far? More 1978 Sunday color Spidey strips, from writer Stan Lee and artist John Romita, Sr.! Click below to enlarge, web-heads!

Note how artist Romita sets up each scene, careful to give a real sense of
location. A retreating Spider-Man's distance from the target's home is established
in panel five, the nearness of the railroad station is seen in panel six, leading us
to the station (and Peter's way back to NYC) in the final panel! This also gives
readers a sense of pacing, and the passage of time.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Claw Long and Prosper--Part Two! STAR TREK! Khan! Spock!

It's been many long years since I first spotted that odd knock-off "Mr. Spock" cloth figure in one of those ubiquitous claw machines you see outside of department stores, but take a look at his newly arrived company inside those plexiglass prisons! Due to the newest STAR TREK: INTO DARKNESS flick, it looks as if Spock has been joined by Khan, Kirk, Scotty, Uhura (I think), "mirror" Spock, Klingons, and other tiny-tot TREK toy characters! Is this a dastardly plot by some evil space rapscallion? Click below to enlarge and engage!

Besides the ever-intrepid TREK crew, this machine also inexplicably featured odd knock-off
figures of Domo and a multi-colored "Patrick Star" from SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

WONDER WOMAN vs. the Nazis! 1975 Albert Bigley Original Art! DC Comics?!

Another bombastic blast from the past! Dig this 1975 Wonder Woman pencil drawing by me, age 10, from 1975! Obviously inspired by the then-new ABC-TV movie, THE NEW ORIGINAL WONDER WOMAN, here is the Amazing (and quite mannish) Amazon fighting high-flying Nazi felons (using her famed "Bullets and Bracelets" gimmick) in a World War Two setting! Click to enlarge!

Note the personalization in the upper left corner! Looks like I meant to give
this to my next-door neighbor of the time! But, since I still have it, that means
she somehow never took ownership of this dynamic drawing! Why she didn't
accept this fabulous masterpiece of modern art remains a mystery!

BONUS! Below is the custom logo used for the long-running ABC/CBS WONDER WOMAN TV series! You can tell it was what I had in mind (going only by memory in those pre-VCR or DVR days) when placing my own hand-drawn logo into the drawing above!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Play the Silver Age CAPTAIN AMERICA Game! 1966 Marvelmania! Avengers!

Dig this rare ad, gleaned from a 1966 AVENGERS comic! It's a pulsatin' plug for the then-new CAPTAIN AMERICA board game from madcap Milton Bradley!  The entire Marvel Superheroes line was reaching the apex of its sizzling 60s popularity, due to Marvel's new and uninhibited approach to creating comics (and the attention the BATMAN '66 TV show was bringing to all things superhero), and Cap, Spidey, and the gang were all being slapped onto posters, t-shirts, costumes, figures, and any nutty item you could shake a drawing of Irving Forbush at! Cap had a little extra juice, tho, since he was a pre-existing character who harkened back to the 40s, so this ad may have caught more eyes than expected! Click below to enlarge!

Let's hope the art seen above (on the cards and game board) is only
quick "spec art" for the ad, and not used in the actual product! Sheesh!

BONUS! Click below to enlarge these images of the actual CAP game!

BONUS BONUS! What "free comic book" came packaged with this gorgeous game, as per that boisterous box blurb? Most fans recall getting a minty-fresh issue of TALES OF SUSPENSE #81 (see below)! Some collectors report getting no free comics, since the game was not sold shrink-wrapped in those days, and greedy Marvel malefactors could easily help themselves to the contents of this panic-producing product!

Monday, May 13, 2013

BATMAN FOREVER! The Movie You Never Saw! Robin Williams? Billy Baldwin?! 1995 DC Comics Speculation!

Before the recent (and deadly dull) Chris Nolan BATMAN films, there were the Tim Burton BATMAN movies. Starting in 1989, with a morose Michael Keaton as the Dark Detective, this franchise soon become so overwhelmingly popular, that the creators found themselves pulled in every direction, suddenly being held to the wishes of merchandisers, licensees, and studio chiefs. Such wretched wrangling caused director Burton, and star Keaton, to soon bow out of the increasingly over-bloated series, leaving fans to speculate over who would  be involved in the coming Bat-flicks! Below are some 1994 musings (from ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY and COMIC BUYER'S GUIDE), forecasting such never-to-be doings such as Robin Williams cast as the Riddler, William Baldwin as Batman, and more! Click below to enlarge and remember, Bat-fans!

Odd to think that it took the more recent Nolan BATMAN films to finally center
on the Batman character himself, as per Keaton's 1994 wishes above! The CBG
article also nails the fact that future Bat-films did go into a more "family-friendly"
tone, due to the demands of merchandisers wishing to appeal to kids 

and their toy-buying parents, after the dark and disturbing BATMAN 
RETURNS caused a stir with the public!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Shattering Sunday SPIDER-MAN 70s Strips! "A Party for Petey?!" 1978 Marvel Comics Mania!

Last time, we watched in a dumbfounded state, as Spidey was blackmailed into performing dirty deeds under threat of his secret identity being exposed to the panting public! Now, he executes his second sinister assignment: terrorizing his puppet master's former boss, for reasons still unknown! How long will Spidey have to use his powers to do the bidding of this female felon? Will he prove jeering J. Jonah Jameson (long-time naysayer who believes Spidey to be a grand-standing bad guy) correct? More Bronze Age mile-high madness from Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.! Click below to enlarge!

Why doesn't Spidey perform his mandated tasks in yet another identity,
if caught in the abominable act, nobody associates 
such dirty deeds with Spider-Man or Peter Parker

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Superman Finally Marries LOIS LANE! Or Does He? 1972 DC Comics Madness!

It's very seldom that I post an entire comic book story on this blog, usually opting to display only the most interesting or oddest portions of past comic tales. However, I just had to show off the enitre lead story from this 1972 issue of LOIS LANE #128! It's the kind of story that only DC Comics of the period could produce, even as competitor Marvel Comics continued their domination in the field! Marvel was winning the "comic wars," due to their more plausible and "realistic" stories that never quite reached the levels of absurdity that DC was capable of! Don't believe me? Just click below to enlarge each page, and start believing!

Things start off with a bang with this terrific cover by Bob Oksner

Yep, that must be it! Poor Superman has finally relented to Lois Lane's endless
 marriage-minded advances! Why else would a man consent to (ugh) marriage?!
Interior art by John Rosenberger and Vince Colletta.

So, Batman lends his old buddy (who can fly, by the way), his Batmobile?! Must not be
any current crime waves that need his attention...And, what newly-minted honeymooners
rush right to a strenuous stint of  "musical  chairs" on their wedding night?!

So, it's now time for more dancing, and the inviting of all their pals (including Superman's
crime-busting friends) to the event? Don't they want any "alone time?!"

"When are we going to eat?" That's spoken by the book's token "fat friend" who was recently
added to the story lines. Oh, the pre-politically correct 70s! Such sensitivity throughout!

You knew the wedding had to be a trick, didn't you? What about the trauma 
caused to Lois' co-workers and family? Are they in on the scheme, too?!

Don't the members of the Justice League have better things to do than watch a bogus
ceremony? And, Lois admonishes her long-time love that she wishes for a wedding, and
Supe's answer? "Cool off-you'll feel better!" Then, he further baits her with a spiffy
new ring! What a catch!

What a great guy Supes is, to put ever-loyal Lois thru such a horrifying
ordeal! Of course, it's to prove a very visual point to that wacky, silly, heart-sick
female! It's for her own good, right? 

That ring serves as a visual metaphor for Lois giving up her marriage plans...
Tons of 9-year old male readers let out a collective sigh of relief...

All this tom-foolery just to prove a point? And, what if Lois got somehow stuck
in that other dimension? Can't Lois marry Supes and only exist in the dimension
where only the Man of Steel can have access to her, thus ensuring her safety from 

criminals? And, is it too creepy that Superman is also spending more spare time 
(aren't people starving somewhere in the world?) creating life-like (presumably
anatomically correct) robots of Lois?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

1976 Gil Kane CAPTAIN AMERICA Cover Art! The Red Skull Lives! Marvel Madness!

Back yet again with even more mind-numbing Gil Kane comic art greatness! Here is Gil's spectacular cover to MARVEL FEATURE #15, from 1976! We get to glom not only the original b/w comic art, as it appeared before coloring, but also Gil's initial rough sketch design! Cap is in the evil grip of his long-time foe, the reprehensible Red Skull! A real feel of high tension, excitement, and drama is on display here, as only Gil can bring it! Click here to see more of Gil's comic art! Click below to enlarge!

Above, left to right: Gil's rough cover concept sketch! The b/w original comic
art! The final, printed cover, as seen on comic racks in 1976! Are the inks on the
final cover art by Frank Giacoia? Mike Esposito? Nobody can seem to agree! Special
thanks to Anthony's Comic Book Art for the cover rough image!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Sky-High Sunday SPIDER-MAN 70s Strips! Spidey's Secret Second Task! Marvel Comics!

Last time, we watched in numb horror, as Spider-Man was blackmailed (under threat of his well-guarded secret identity being revealed) into doing the dirty deeds dictated by a disgruntled former fashion model (hey, they can't all be on the level of a Dr. Octopus)! Now, Spidey suits up to execute his second sinister task, helpless to lash out against his unknown pulchritudinous puppet master! What has she demanded Spidey do next? Can he ever break free of this female foe? And--has anyone ever fallen for the old "handkerchief-over-the-phone" voice trick?! More 1978 Marvel Comic newspaper strips from Stan Lee and John Romita, Sr.! Click to enlarge!