Tagged: Craig Yoe

Ed Catto’s Holiday Gift Guide 2017

Yesterday The New York Times devoted a full page to this perplexing moment in Geek Culture we find ourselves in: a time when there are “too many versions” of Batman on the big and little screen. This persnickety topic is worth a deeper dive at a later date, but the big headline for this gift-giving season is that are a cornucopia of options for Geek Culture lovers. I could devote a whole column to Batman stuff available, but instead let me just touch on the Caped Crusader and instead offer up a broad range of Geek Culture gift ideas.

I love just about all of the Titan publications, and their merchandise is quite impressive as well. Their list of new goodies includes everything from The Beatles to Preacher to Pulp Fiction to Kill Bill! Titan’s Yellow Submarine vinyl figures blind box series is especially fun for Beatles fans as it includes obscure and esoteric figures. And each one looks fab.

Eaglemoss creates so many cool products for Doctor Who, Lord of the Rings, DC characters, Marvel characters (via their chess set series), Walking Dead and Alien that it’s hard to choose favorites. But let me spotlight a couple I really like – their new Batman Animated Series figures and their Star Trek starships. One spectacular item is the new 11” classic Enterprise. Each item comes with intensely detailed guides that are produced by professionals who know their fandom.

Dan Gearino educates and entertains in Comic Shop The Retail Mavericks Who Gave Us a New Geek Culture, recently published by Ohio University’s Swallow Press. It’s an engaging read that explains the birth of comics’ direct market and also provides up-to-the-minute profiles of retailers and their comic stores.

In Lady Action: The Sand of Forever, author Ron Fortier delivered a thriller cocktail that’s one part Modesty Blaise, one part 007 and one part Indiana Jones. It gets even better, as Airship 27 just released the audio book version. I think Kalinda Little does a superb job reading it, but find out for yourself here.

Michael Eury’s Back Issue Magazine celebrates comics of the 70s, 80s and today with insightful articles and columns. Sometimes I’m afraid to pick up an issue because I can never put it down! An annual subscription http://tinyurl.com/BackIssueSub makes an enduring gift that fans will appreciate throughout the year.

FanSets is a company run by fans for fans – and it shows. They have created gorgeous enamel pins featuring characters from Star Trek, Valiant, DC, Harry Potter, Firefly and more. I am in awe of their choices for DC characters pins like the Golden Age Sandman, Saturn Girl, and the grown-up Robin of Earth Two. It’s hard not to agree with Star Trek fans that this series of pin, including Discovery, look incredible too. Available at your local comic shop (look for their new displays!) or FanSets.com.

John Siuntres’ Word Balloon Podcast offers one-on-one interviews with the industry’s most interesting creators. Siuntres, a longtime radio professional, knows how to get folks talking. I listen to this show to find out more from creators I like and to learn about new things from creators with whom I’m less familiar. The podcast is free, but you could make someone a part of the League of Word Balloon Listeners with a gift donation. Find out more at http://wordballoon.blogspot.com.

This fall, I bought a copy of Classic Comics Press’ Kelly Green: The Complete Collection by Stan Drake and Leonard Starr from Emil Novak at Queen City Comics. I promptly wrote about how much I enjoyed it. Classic Comics Press Publisher Charles Pelto does a great job with all his books and you can’t go wrong with any of them for gifting.

I haven’t completely finished Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes even though I wrote about it earlier this year. That’s because it’s so much fun that I just don’t want it end. Another Yoe book, Behaving MADly is a refreshing read for hard core and casual fans. It’s a wonderful book all about the many MAD magazine knockoffs. I gifted a copy to my pal Walshy (who is completely nuts too) and he was thrilled.

The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide always seemed like a “must have,” but each year publisher J.C.Vaughn and his merry band make it even more and more “must have-ier”! I especially liked Jim Steranko’s Batman cover on this year’s edition. Oh wait, it’s another version of Batman!

All the best to you and yours this Yuletide Season!

Ed Catto: Craig Yoe Gets Super Weird


%e2%80%a2super-weird-heroes-madam-fatalLast week we discussed three books that each took a whimsical look at the sillier side of superheroes. This week, we take a deeper dive with Craig Yoe and his latest book Super Weird Heroes.

Craig is a prolific author and/or creator with a fanboy streak a mile wide. His impressive books range the gamut from Archie to Zombies and just about everything in between. Two of my recent favorites are Haunted Horror (Vol. 1) and Zombies! The Chilling Archives of Horror Comics.

Surprisingly, Yoe has never published a superhero book. “I started out reading Little Lulu and Uncle Scrooge,” said Yoe. When he outgrew characters like that, he thought he was putting comics behind him.

%e2%80%a2kangaroo-man-jpgBut when some junior high friends turned him onto early Marvel heroes, like Fantastic Four and Spider-Man, he found he was hooked on comics again. Since then, he’s always had a soft spot for them. “When I started Yoe Books,” said Yoe, “I thought superheroes were so strong… they didn’t need me.”

But then as he gathered vintage comics for his other geek culture projects, he couldn’t help but also stumble across some of the most fascinating, albeit obscure, heroes.

Yoe noted that it wasn’t as easy to get old superhero comics. Because this particular genre is so strong, so many collectors seek out these comics. To find and buy the comics, he was competing against collectors with some deep pockets.

Who’s Your Favorite?

Yoe was hard pressed to pick a favorite. But he was excited to speak about a few in particular.

%e2%80%a2bullet-girl-splashCaptain Hadacol has a fascinating story. A southern senator created the medicine, Hadacol – with at least 12% alcohol. (It may have had more). The hero, Captain Hadacol, gets his powers from drinking this “medicine!”

The Deacon was a mafia-type criminal who was crawling through the woods to escape his pursuers. When he came across a church and broke into it, he donned a priest’s outfit to become… the Deacon. And the Deacon’s sidekick was a young boy who was beaten by bullies to become… Little Nicky.

“The sidekicks are so much fun,” said Yoe.

And one of the most interesting sidekicks is Bullet Man’s ‘assistant’ Bullet Girl. In the story that Yoe features, Bullet Girl get’s fed up with Bullet Man’s chauvinist attitude – and quits! This particular story is illustrated by the legendary Ken Bald.

And to sweeten the pot, Yoe also offers readers a page of original artwork from another Bullet Man adventure.

%c2%b6super-weird-heroes-book-back-coverYoe tracked down several of the golden age creators and he found that even they didn’t remember these obscure superheroes. “I get the impression that back in the day, the editors told the writers and artists to just go and create their own heroes,” Yoe said.

These are the plucky heroes – the heroes that didn’t stick. They were often published by smaller publishers with precarious printing schedules.

The Look and Feel That’s Real

Yoe takes great strides, in all his reprint books, to present the material in all their newsprint glory. Many companies who publish vintage comics clean them up and then publish them in slick color. But Yoe Books takes the opposite approach.

%e2%80%a2super-weird-heroes-book-the-deacon-copy“We like the reader to get into the book so they feel like they are reading an old comic, maybe in the forties under a tree, purchased from a candy store,” said Yoe.

“Also, you can’t tell, but if one of the panels is blurred, we spend hours and hours and to ensure they look good and are readable. We didn’t overly correct when it’s out of register. We work to ensure they are not misprinted. We monitor every single panel and make sure the color has a nice fidelity,” said Yoe. “ We make sure the comics look old.”

Who’s it for?

These superheroes have broad appeal. Super Weird Heroes is available at brick and mortar bookstores and IDW has received major orders from bookstore chains. And there’s been strong interest from comic shops. “There’s no better retailers in the world than comic shops, right?”

superweirdheroes-%e2%80%a2“There’s something here for everybody,” proclaimed Yoe. “Hard core collectors will love this and kids will too. “

In fact, Yoe told me the tale of a shipment of books arriving at his home. “My six year old boy saw the box, grabbed one and asked ‘Will you read this to me?’”

Yoe estimated, using the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, that it would cost a collector $105,280 to acquire all the comics with these stories.

“It’s the best Holiday bargain ever,” said Yoe.

Ed Catto: So Bad It’s Good


It wasn’t that long ago that comics enthusiasts would cringe at all the silliness. It used to be so hard for comic fans to be taken seriously by the world at large. I vividly remember being so enthusiastic about those moody “serious” 70s Batman stories like Night of the Stalker (Detective Comics #439) or There Is No Hope in Crime Alley (Detective Comics #457). But I knew if I ever were to discuss these comics with any non-comics fan, I’d simply get an eye roll and sarcasm along with a “Holy Comics” pun or a “POW, ZAP, WHAM” pantomime. There was no respect for comics.

detective-comics-457-%e2%80%a2In fact, this led to the adoption of the term “graphic novel” in 1978. Will Eisner coined the phrase to inoculate creative endeavors in sequential art (comics) against the public’s dismissive mindset for all comics.

Today, the world understands that not all comics are silly and all comics are not about superheroes. So much so, that there is a conversation bubbling up in many places that argues that maybe we don’t even need that highfalutin term – Graphic Novel – anymore.

Geeks have won. The world now knows that comics can be many things and can be enjoyed by many different people in many different ways.

Which now brings us full circle. I also believe there’s no need to cringe at the silliness of comics anymore. Comics occupy such a big wide world that all of it can be celebrated – from the silly and whimsical to the grim and gritty.

And maybe that’s why there’s been a mini-trend of books that simply have fun pointing out all the silly comic super hero characters. So consider this a sequel of sorts to my Yuletide Book Guide column last week. This week, let’s get ready to rumble giggle with a few wonderful books.

The League of Regrettable Superheroes: Half-Baked Heroes from Comic Book History by Jon Morris is an excellent introduction to 100 of the goofiest heroes ever. Morris spotlights each with background, vintage artwork and colorful commentary. It’s divided into three sections: The Golden Age, The Silver Age and the Modern Age. Some readers might take offense at the heroes he’s selected to ridicule (Hey, I remember when we took Marvel’s Human Fly seriously) but it’s a great primer!

I’ve know a lot about many of the characters featured, but super-obscure characters like The Bouncer, Dr. Vampire and Captain Truth were new to me –and I’m so glad I know about them now.

superweirdheroes-%e2%80%a2In fact, this book is so much fun, that I’m glad that Morris just came out with a sequel: The League of Regrettable Supervillains: Oddball Villains from Comic Book History.

Craig Yoe is man filled with passion and wit – and both always come out in everything he does. I enjoy all his comics and books, but Yoe Books, in association with IDW, just published Super Weird Heroes. This amazing book also spotlights these goofball heroes of yesteryear, but here you can also read their adventures. This book is 500 pages total, but offers 320 pages of glorious goofy reprints.

Michael Eury is likewise an author filled with passion for his subjects. I really enjoy his Back Issue magazine, obviously a labor of love. His upcoming Hero-A-Go-Go: Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters, & Culture of the Swinging Sixties zeros in on the goofiness for a specific time period.

“Whereas Back Issue magazine allows me to explore the comics and culture of my adolescence, Hero-A-Go-Go is my love letter to my childhood, the Swinging Sixties,” said Eury.

This book is not on sale until April of 2017 so you’ll have to be patient. But there’s so many good things that I can’t wait to read – everything from Dell’s Monster Superheroes and Joe Simon’s Jigsaw to the story behind All Star Dairy’s Batman Milk! And there’s a great preview available right here.

hero-a-go-go-%e2%80%a2“It was a thrill interviewing folks like Bill Mumy, Ralph Bakshi, and Dean Torrence (Jan and Dean Meets Batman) about their contributions to Camp culture, but I was most charmed by Bob Holiday, who brought the Man of Steel to life on Broadway in It’s a Bird… It’s a Plane… It’s Superman,” said Eury. “He took the role of Superman seriously, and I’m honored to shine a much-deserved spotlight on his valuable, but too often overlooked, contributions to the Superman saga.”

So don’t take yourself too seriously and spread a little fun this Yuletide season –and beyond – with these treasures. Here’s your handy ComicMix summary:

Both League Regrettable Superheroes  and Supervillains books are published by Quirk Books and the hardcover versions retail for $24.95.

Craig Yoe’s Super Weird Heroes is published by IDW and the hardcover retails for $39.99.

Michael Eury’s Hero-A-Go-Go: Campy Comic Books, Crimefighters, & Culture of the Swinging Sixties is available for pre-order now and will be published on 4/19/17 for $36.95.

Mike Gold: Bizarro – Who Am Him?

Bizarro Strip

One of the most enduring DC Comics creations, Bizarro has been with us since 1958 – either debuting in the Superman newspaper strip, according to editor Mort Weisinger, or in Superboy #68 according to where most baby boomers first found him. Either way, that original Bizarro was quite a different being than he is today. In fact, the personality, appearance and modus operandi of Superman’s brother-in-harms seem to differ with just about every use.

Bizarro 1Originally Bizarro was a sympathetic character, the result of an experiment that didn’t quite work. Half-Frankenstein’s monster, half-Quasimodo; he was a manufactured man who grew the most human of hearts over the course of his initial appearance in both the Superman strip and the Superboy story.

That Superboy story sold like a sumbych. Editor Weisinger started putting him in every Superman family title he could – cross-editor crossovers didn’t exist in 1958, except for the Superman/Batman stories in World’s Finest. In less than three years Adventure Comics cover-featured an ongoing Tales of the Bizarro World series.

In this series all the pith was removed and the creature and the stories were played for laughs. That wasn’t hard, as Bizarro’s superpower was to be and do the opposite of what the “normal” did. By now he had his own planet populated by equally imperfect duplications of other beings from both the reader’s universe and DC’s. Bizarro even introduced the Bizarro President Kennedy to the Bizarro Marilyn Monroe. This happened years before we found out that the real Kennedy and Monroe were making the beast with two backs right there in the people’s White House.

bizarro01Weisinger was a very, very well-connected man and he had many friends in high places. In 1976 I asked Mort if he had inside information at the time. He glowed, looked at me and said: “You know what they say.” I replied “Ummm… If I told you I’d have to kill you?” and Mort said “That’s right.”

The Tales of the Bizarro World stories lacked tension and the type of heroic action one associates with superhero comics, and because gravity does work it was necessarily lacking in internal consistency. After a little more than a year, Tales of the Bizarro World was replaced with Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and that ran for about seven years.

You can’t keep a good creature down, and Bizarro has reappeared with a frequency exceeded only by The Joker. But, as I noted at the outset, there was no external consistency to the character. He was a goofy monster, he was a confused construct, he was (most frequently) a monster who acted as a super-villain but with the motivation of a guy who simply does the opposite of what Superman would do. Maybe.

Bizarro 2I wish somebody would sit down and read Dick Briefer’s Frankenstein, published in the 1940s by Prize Comics. Many reprints abound; to start I’d recommend the one Yoe Books and IDW did in 2010. If you’ve never heard of it, it may very well be the best American comic book you’ve never heard of. Briefer is in the same league as Eisner, Cole and Toth, and he managed to tell a great many stories without tripping over the concept. Frankenstein was sympathetic and heroic, pithy and funny, and always a joy to read.

I like Bizarro, particularly that original newspaper comics story. And I like many of the various interpretations of the character that have come our way in the subsequent 58 years. Some are truly brilliant.

Despite DC’s multi-purpose guardianship over the decades, Bizarro has become an accepted term in the English language. The term “Bizarro World” is often used as a metaphor. It’s even in most computer spell-checkers.

And, really, who among us can’t identify with a character is constantly misunderstood?

Ed Catto: Murphy Anderson – The Non-Traditional Man of Tradition

PS Magazine Murphy Anderson

Last month we said goodbye to the great comics artist, Murphy Anderson. He had such a body of work, and given his impressive talents, it’s not surprising that he was working as a professional comics artist over six decades.

My gorgeous wife, Kathe, had come to love Murphy too. She was so impressed with the man, his lovely wife Helen and his son, Murphy Anderson III. (This is one case where you can’t parrot that old saw, “There will never be another Murphy Anderson” – because there is!) She and I were talking to some friends about Murphy’s passing and we were trying to put it into perspective for these folks who weren’t comic fans. I stumbled into the analogy that Murphy was the “Tony Bennett of comics.” Upon further reflection, I think that’s pretty fitting. He was the consummate professional, always delivering high quality work and was always consistent. He never changed his thinking to bend the times – neither in his art style nor his thoughts on how a professional presents himself. And like Tony Bennett, Murphy was humble, warm and charming.

But even though he never changed what he did or how he did it, Murphy leaves us with a rich scope of non-traditional work.  Oh, sure, if you’re feeling nostalgic for the great man you can pull out some old Hawkman stories or Buck Rogers strips. But this week we’re going to celebrate some of Murphy’s non-traditional work!

MS Magazine

You probably know that MS Magazine proudly debuted with a Murphy Anderson cover featuring Wonder Woman. I wouldn’t have been in their target demographic, but I know I would’ve bought this issue!

PS Magazine

Valiant AndersonIt’s hard to believe, but in the days before Instagram and cellphones, folks used to read print material when they were just hanging around. The Army knew this and created PS Magazine, a hybrid of information for the serviceman told in a light, engaging comics style. You probably know that Will Eisner worked on this, but did you know that Murphy Anderson managed the contract for years afterwards?

Prince Valiant

Pioneer’s Prince Valiant reprint series invited some of the industry’s best artists to contribute covers to the series. Murphy’s Prince Valiant was a winner:

Aurora Ads

Sometimes an advertised product looks nothing like the real thing. Safe to say that no kid’s finished model kits looked as good as they did in the ads in which that Murphy Anderson provided the art.

black-cat-ma-290x450-1473904Black Cat

In the 90s, Alfred Harvey rebooted a family property: the original Black Cat. Mark Evanier was the scripter and Murphy Anderson was the interior artist. Although not known for rendering vivacious women, Murphy could rev it up when needed (see my previous column on his stunning depiction of the lovely Dejah Thoris) and he sure did here. Keep an eye out for this gem (Alfred Harvey’s Black Cat: The Origins) when you’re diving into the back issue bins.

Super Queens

You might have known that Murphy provided the packaging artwork for Captain Action, but did you know he also provided stellar artwork for the companion Super Queen’s line? It included lovely images for Supergirl, Mera, Batgirl and Wonder Woman.

Record Albums

Ok, we’ll admit it – these weren’t quite Sgt. Pepper level, but Murphy created several record album covers for Batman, Robin and more!

murphy-anderson-cover-seduction-of-the-innocent-300x426-9511981Seduction of the Innocent

Do you love Craig Yoe’s IDW reprints (Haunted Horror and Weird Love) as much as I do? Back in 1985, Eclipse did a similar thing with their Seduction of the Innocent comics. Issue #2’s cover features the lovely Gloria Wheeler, Interplanetary Girl Reporter using elements from the 1950s story called “The Space Treasure.” The whole story, with robust Murphy Anderson pencils and inks, was originally printed in Standard series called Fantastic Worlds.

Now, before I wind it up, I might need to remind you that Murphy, the quintessential gentleman, was a Tarheel… and the University of North Carolina’s team color is baby blue. There’s an old saying in the south, “God so loved Carolina, that he made the sky Carolina Blue. There’s should be a corollary to that, something along the lines of: “God so loved the comics industry that he gave us Murphy Anderson.”

Exclusive Image Reveal: “The Horror Lovers” Hot Tub Print


The cast of “The Horror Lovers” do their best to beat the summer heat in this image exclusively available as a print to backers of their Kickstarter!

“The Horror Lovers” is a screwball horror/humor comic book by Valerie D’Orazio (“PunisherMAX,” “Beyond: Edward Snowden”) and Bobby Timony (“The Night Owls,” “Detectobot”)—a love-letter to the types of slapstick movies, humor comics and grade-B horror movies we loved as a child. You can read the entire 8-page preview for “The Horror Lovers” right here, for gratis!


The first issue features an Introduction by Craig Yoe (the editor/curator of “Haunted Horror” and “Popeye” for IDW/Yoe Books), pinups by legendary artists Paul Gulacy and Fred Hembeck, “Archie” artist Dan Parent, the acclaimed Dennis Calero and “Wapsi Square’s” Paul Taylor.

And the modest stretch goal will produce a SECOND issue of HORROR LOVERS for early 2015, featuring pinups by Dan Goldman, Josh Bayer, Andrew Pepoy, and more!


If you are a fan of classic comics—with a twist—and want to support independent creators, please check out the “Horror Lovers” Kickstarter and consider supporting the project.