Monday, June 24, 2013

World's Oldest Book Found in Scotland

The World's Oldest Comic Book has been Scotland?

June 24, 2013  •   by Troy Dove    •    Subculture Comics

Most comic book collectors credit DC Comics for giving birth to the industry when they published Action Comics #1 in June, 1938. But, a recent discovery, from halfway around the world, may change what everyone believes they know about the origin of the comic books.

The world's oldest comic book was recently discovered in Glasgow, Scotland. The Glasgow Looking Glass, published in 1825, nearly 200 years ago, predates all other known comics.
The Glasgow Looking Glass, published in Scotland in 1825, is the World's oldest comic book. (Photo Credit: PA Wire)
While Golden Age comics (1930s-1955) get the most media attention, astute collectors know that comics began much earlier than the 1930s. Most of the comics created prior to 1900 were political or satirical in nature and appeared most often as single-frames or multi-paneled comic strips, more than in book form. This early period of comic art is labeled the Victorian Age. Examples from this era are rarely ever encountered and, given their rarity and value, they are not as widely collected as those of more recent eras.

The comic casts a satirical eye over 19th century Scottish society. (Photo Credit: PA Wire)
The Glasgow Looking Glass, casts a satirical eye over 19th century Scottish society, poking fun at the fashions and politics of the era and is considered a predecessor of Punch and other popular satirical comics of the Victorian Age. 

A scene from The Glasgow Looking Glass. (Photo Credit: PA Wire)
The discovery will be reported and discussed at the International Graphic Novel and International Bande Dessinee Society Joint Conference 2013 at Glasgow University this week (June 24, 2013).

The Glasgow Looking Glass is a predecessor of popular satirical comics of the Victorian age. (Photo Credit: PA Wire)
Dr Laurence Grove, conference organizer from the University of Glasgow, said: "Work being presented at the conference shows that not only is Scotland, and particularly Glasgow, right at the forefront of the comic book industry today, but it has been so throughout history. By hosting major events such as this we are really helping to re-conceptualise comic books. We're changing the cultural canon in a way."(credit itv)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Original or Reprint: Analysis of Action Comics #1

Original or Reprint: Analysis of Action Comics #1

June 21, 2013  •   by Troy Dove    •    Subculture Comics

Original Action Comics #1 from 1938.
Considered the Holy Grail of Golden Age comics, comic book collectors can spot the cover of Action Comics #1 from across a crowded room. But, while most serious collectors can easy distinguish an original issue from the multitude of reprints issued over the past 75 years, every once and a while you still hear of a collector purchasing an ‘original’ issue, only to find out that it is actually a  vintage reprint. While a few reprints do have some value in the collector market, it is nowhere near the value of an original issue.

The original 1938 issue of Action Comics #1, was 68 pages in length and featured an array of characters starring in a multiple original stories. Superman was the first story in the book, and was only about 12 pages in length, the remainder of the book featured characters such as Chuck Dawson, Zatara Master Magician, Pep Morgan, and Tex Thompson. (Most reprints focus only on the original Superman story and are therefore only about 12-16 pages in length, so they are easy to distinguish from the original 68-page issue.)

The most common reprint that is mistaken for an original issue is the 1978 DC Comics reprint entitled Famous 1st Edition, which is a page-by-page reprint of the original. Throughout the 1970s DC published a series of famous golden age comics under the Famous 1st Edition title, not just Action Comics.

While DC intended for the Famous 1st Edition release of Action Comics #1 to be an exact reproduction of the original, there are a few differences that make it easily distinguishable from the 1938 issue.

Listed below is a quick guide to help distinguish between the 1978 Famous 1st Edition reprint and the original issue from 1938.

1.  All DC Comics’ Famous 1st Edition reprints were originally sold with two covers, an outer and an inner cover. The outer cover clearly stated that it was an issue from the Famous 1st Edition reprint series. Underneath the outer cover was an inner cover, which was a replica of the 1938 original. Often, the Famous 1st Edition reprint issue is found without the external cover, making it appear more like an original issue.

The 1978 reprint of Action Comics #1 as part of DC Comics' Famous 1st Edition series. The outer cover (left) clearly indicates the issue is a reprint, but with the outer cover removed, the inner cover (right) can be deceiving.
2.  The outer cover of the 1978 reprint was printed on heavy paper stock which was held together with three staples on the spine (the original 1938 issue had only two staples).

3.  If the outer cover of the Famous 1st Edition has been removed, it will very closely resemble the original 1938 issue, but a quick way to distinguish between the two is that the 1978 reprint was issued on ‘slick’ paper and the 1938 original was issued on standard matte paper.

4.  The slick paper cover of the reprint is also missing a few art elements that appear on the original 1938 issue (see below).

The Famous 1st Edition reprint from 1978 (lower panel) is missing art elements that appeared on the original 1938 cover (upper panel). 1. The broken stones from the front of the crushed car (A); 2. Highlights on the car's fender (B); 3. The two beads of sweat off the brow of from the man in the foreground.
5.  The 1978 reprint was also slightly oversized from the original issue, measuring 10” x 13.5” whereas the original measured 7.25” x 10.25”.

 6.  Finally, the back cover of the original 1938 issue had an advertisement for Johnson Smith Company, the 1978 reprint does not.

While this quick guide is not meant to be all-inclusive, it should help collectors easily distinguish between the 1978 Famous 1st Edition reprint of Action Comics #1, and the original issue from 1938.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

DC Comics Announces Villains Month

Villains Rule the DC Universe in September

June 9, 2013  •   by Troy Dove    •    Subculture Comics

David Finch's cover for "Forever Evil."
This September, in celebration of the two-year anniversary of the New 52 relaunch, DC Comics has created a special treat for DC Fans – “Villains Month” – a month where the DC Villains rule the universe. 

The month will kick off with the launch of “Forever Evil,” the beginning of a seven-part mini-series led by Geoff Johns and David Finch. The first issue will pick up right after the events of “Trinity War,” and with the Justice League out of commission it is the perfect opportunity for the Villains take control.

“’Forever Evil' is a chance for David and I to work on all the greatest villains in comic books," Johns stated in an interview with US Today. “I don't even know if there's anybody not in it. We're really exploring what darkness means and the different kinds of darkness that are within these villains."

The New 52 was launched in September of 2011 and every September, DC does a little something special to celebrate the relaunching of the DC universe. In 2012, September marked the #0 Month, which highlighted the origins of DC’s heroes. Now, with DC’s “Villains Month,” fans finally get a chance to see how universe would be if the Villains were in control. 
"Villain Month" cover of Batman.

DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio noted in a statement to Buzzfeed that “Villains Month” will feature villains both new and old. “"You’re going to see some new villains that haven’t been introduced in the New 52 here - but you won’t be seeing anybody for the first time” said DiDio. " You’ll basically see a real cross section of all the villains that we felt represent the strength of the DC line."

"Villain Month" cover of Superman.
“Villains Month,” spans across all 52 DC titles, replacing the superhero in each issue with a villain associated with each comic’s storyline. To make the event even more memorable, DC will produce a 3D Motion Cover for each issue which will create a lenticular illusion to spotlight each villain
“It’s an incredible 3D effect that shows depth of field on the covers,” said Didio. “It’s the full cover stock, so it’s not anything that’s been glued on. More importantly, it’s actually pliable and soft to the touch - it’s a brand new technology and we’re going to be the first ones debuting in this fashion.”

While a few covers have been leaked to the press, fans will have to wait until September to see all the titles.