Thursday, March 27, 2014

Rare (?) "Superman The Movie" Tie-In Comic: Adventures of the Big Boy #266, 1979

When is a Superman comic book not a Superman comic book? Perhaps when it's Adventures of the Big Boy #266, a tie-in to the first Christopher Reeve Superman movie. I recall picking up this issue at a Marc's Big Boy restaurant on a family trip in our home state of Wisconsin. The Superman portion of this 16-page (including covers) classic is only the cover and the three-page lead story by Mari Foster with art by Big Boy-stalwart Manny Stallman. Big Boy, his friend Dolly, and Nugget the dog take a trip to a movie studio in "London, England" where they are met by Reeve, who talks about bulking up for the role. He also acts in a special flying scene with the trio, directed by Richard Donner himself, who "has directed hundreds of TV shows and movies like The Omen."

Even at age twelve, I realized that this thing was an oddity: A comic book with Superman on the cover that wasn't published by DC Comics? That never even mentioned DC Comics or included a trademark? That didn't mention that Superman was a comic-book character at all? But hey, it was a restaurant giveaway comic for little kids - what did I expect?

I recently ran across my vintage copy of this oddity when going through an old box of comics. The book boasts the world's most incomplete indicia (and it even leaves out the "the" before "Big Boy" on the cover!), so while I know that the issue was copyright 1979, I'm not sure which month it might have come out. I'm guessing early in the year, as Superman was released on December 15, 1978. Comic Vine lists the publication date as January 1, 1980, which can't be correct; and the usually authoritative Grand Comics Database is sketchy on this title and doesn't even have a listing for this issue. --Oh, wait, I see now that comicbookdb lists a cover date of June 1979. That would have given its young readers only a few weeks to enter its advertised "win a T-shirt that gives you sugarless bubblegum balls when you squeeze it" contest, deadline July 15, 1979. (I doubt that these books were dated three months in advance like newsstand comics were at the time.)

After I started to write this post, I panicked: What if there was already lots of information about this book out there somewhere? Luckily, a quick Google search yielded only a few brief mentions, plus the various database links I have in the previous paragraph, but nothing else of substance. (Even BookSteve himself hasn't seen this one!) But, who was I kidding? I'd already scanned the story, so of course I was going to post it anyway. So without further ado, here we go. Click to embiggen the images to a readable size, and "Enjoy!"

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

CFP: Comics and the Canon / "Partial Answers" journal issue (June 16)

Call for Papers
Comics and the Canon
a special issue of
Partial Answers:
Journal of Literature and the History of Ideas

Over the last three decades, comics, graphic memoirs, and graphic novels have emerged as literary, artistic, and cultural artifacts of central importance. Comics were once seen as outside what we might broadly call a literary and fine-arts "canon": as objects belonging to low culture rather than high culture, as ephemeral items rather than artworks of lasting and iconic significance, as lesser hybrids of word and image rather than as belonging to a specific demanding medium. And yet the last thirty years have seen the rise and impact of works that are serious, ambitious, and monumental — works in conversation with an established literary and artistic canon, and works which themselves make a claim to cultural centrality and significance. "Comics studies" has developed as an academic discipline; artists and critics have worked to recover the rich and understudied history of the medium, with the result that a "canon" of central figures is emerging.

What is gained and what is lost when we try to establish a Comics canon? How do artists make claims to cultural centrality by putting their work in conversation with more traditional canonical works, and how do they challenge the 'canon' through exploring alternative aesthetic values and subjects? In the canon-building process of winnowing and centralization, which works are elevated and which are excluded? Is there something perverse in canonizing works in a medium that has often characterized itself as marginal? What tensions are thereby exposed, not just in comics but also in the very process of canonization?

This collection invites essays on all aspects of comics and canonization, including
  • analyses of comics which rewrite or otherwise engage with canonical works of art, film and literature
  • studies that consider comics in relation to other artistic media in which word and image are traditionally combined (illustrated novels, illuminated manuscripts, film scripts and storyboards, etc.)
  • defenses and critiques of the artists whose works have become most central to the comics canon (Spiegelman, Satrapi, Bechdel)
  • arguments for the inclusion of understudied artists, artworks and movements in the comics canon
  • essays on the ways in which comics challenge the premises and processes of literary canonization
  • projections on the future of the ‘canon’ in comics classes and scholarship
Submissions (between 5,000 and 10,000 words, the Harvard system of references) are due by June 16, 2014. Authors of the papers that are accepted will be responsible for obtaining permissions to reprint illustrations.

The journal will accept electronic submissions, in Word or RTF, to be sent to . For inquiries please contact the guest editor, Professor Ariela Freedman (Concordia University, Montreal) at

CFP also on-line at the Partial Answers website.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Comics Alternative Podcast 75: Sheltered, Dead Boy Detectives, The Royals: Masters of War, and Black Dynamite

On today's episode of The Comics Alternative, Derek Royal and I review four new titles. First up is Sheltered vol. 1, "a pre-apocalyptic tale" of a survivalist camp gone wrong. We follow that with Dead Boy Detectives #1 and #2, the latest spin-off from The Sandman; Royals: Masters of War #1, a super-powered alternate history; and the faux-blaxploitation media tie-in, Black Dynamite #1. A potpourri of genres!

As always, click the link above to stream the episode, or you can subscribe via iTunes.

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