Ed Catto: Craig Yoe Gets Super Weird
Last 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.
But 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.
Captain 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.
Yoe 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.
“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?”
“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.