Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Spirit: First Appearance on ebay

The origin splash page, from 2 June 1940.
Art and story by Will Eisner.
This scan from the Spirit Archives.
I just know you've got $4,500 lying around that you're not telling me about. Buy it now!

The first edition of The Spirit Section has been available on ebay for a number of weeks now, won't you give it a home?

Indeed this hard copy is probably very rare. I couldn't even find another one of these at Heritage Auctions. Jim Halperin at Heritage was a great help to me when I was researching the book. In writing the Companion, my access to The Spirit Section was limited. Unlike the other Quality books, which are well represented at the Digital Comics Museum, the Spirit selection is very spotty. Sure, you can find lots of reprints of the Spirit, but this made chronicling Lady Luck and especially Mr. Mystic more difficult than other heroes. I feel I accomplished the task, though, cobbling up enough of the originals, plus reprints from editions by Kitchen Sink Press and others. Because The Spirit Section was inserted into newspapers, it was probably thrown out with the newspapers a lot. That said, there are always editions available on ebay for under $40.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Quality Implosion

A Graphic Look at Trends in Publishing

While researching the Companion, I found it necessary to make certain charts to help me identify trends in the publishing history. I did this for many different sets of data, like the anthology issues, the individual features, and in this instance the series themselves. This also helped me read all the comics in a chronological fashion: month-by-month instead of title-by-title.

Click to view in a new window.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Toonopedia: Quality Stuff

Although the news isn't breaking, I just learned that Donald Markstein, the webmaster behind Toonopedia has been struggling this year with serious health problems. The site was down for a while, but is back up! I had hoped to talk to Don about his site while writing my book but now I understand why he might not have responded to my inquiries.

During my research for the Companion, I frequently found gems of information on Don's site that were unique. His long history and fandom of comics availed him of certain knowledge that is preserved by this site. Although he does not attribute any of the facts in his entries to sources or conversations, I trust his information. Nobody with a passing knowledge of comics could write the things found at Toonopedia.

To honor him, I've copied his Quality Comics related pages for you. This list also inspires me to do some new posts about Quality's humor and adventure strips. (The book's character profiles cover super-heroes only. It would take another whole book to do the rest!) Visit Toonopedia:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Lady Blackhawks

Today many DC fans know Zinda Blake, the Lady Blackhawk thrust forward in time to become the brassiest member of the Birds of Prey. But before her debut in Blackhawk #133 (Feb. 1959), there had been several aspirants during the Quality era...

The first “lady Blackhawk,” Sugar, from Military #20 (July 1943). Art by Reed Crandall.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Blackhawks of Earth-One

The Evanier/Spiegle Run, Blackhawk #251-273 (1982-84)

I was completely unprepared for just how good this series would be. I've always been a fan of Howard Chaykin's late 1980s revival, but this one went under the radar. Evanier and Spiegle were in top form throughout this series. If DC is listening, this run is a prime candidate for collection.

From Blackhawk #251 (1982). Art by Dan Spiegle.
The 1982 reboot by longtime collaborators Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegle re-envisioned the Blackhawks in a more streamlined fashion, taking all the most prominent aspects of the original wartime adventures and adding a more human dimension to the pilots themselves. The series lasted for 23 issues and appeared to be relatively successful despite its lack of promotion. On his blog, Evanier claimed that,

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Interview with Will Eisner about Blackhawk

Blackhawk #260 (1983). Cover art
by Howard Chaykin.
In reviewing this revival of Blackhawk for a new series of profiles, I unearthed the following interview, which adds to the mythos surrounding the creation of “Blackhawk,” which artist Chuck Cuidera consistently maintained was his creation, and specifically not the creation of Will Eisner. 

This 1983 interview with Eisner precedes all of the documented accounts made by Cuidera on the issue. The first of these wasn’t until 1999, the year that Cuidera publicly claimed sole creation of “Blackhawk.” There is anecdotal evidence told to Jim Amash by industry professionals that Cuidera made those same claims as far back as the 1950s/60s. In characterizing Cuidera below, Eisner was probably dancing around his true opinions. Cuidera, on the other hand, rarely minced words on the subject, and held some disdain towards Eisner (again, both witnessed and transcribed by Amash). Naturally, this issue is covered more in the Quality Companion! Read Jim Amash's interviews with Cuidera and Eisner in Alter Ego #34 and #48, respectively.

Written by Cat Yronwode, originally published in the letter column of Blackhawk #260 (July 1983).

Ask the average comic book fan of today who created the Blackhawks and you will get a vague answer. "The Blackhawks? Uh ... didn’t Reed Crandall do them originally... or was it Chuck Cuidera? …no, Reed Crandall ... it was Crandall... I think."