Several pages from the programme to 1975’s first Mighty Marvel Comic Convention at New York’s Hotel Commodore. The cover features seven examples of clip art, from a John Buscema Conan to a Frank Brunner Dr Strange. (I’ve seen the Spider-Man figure credited to Marie Severin, though I have my doubts. That looks like John Romita art to me.) Finally, the back cover presented a mournful Hulk by Herb Trimpe. Inside were printed the first pages of three new features described as “our newest, grandest and greatest creations”; Satanna The Devil’s Daughter, Skull The Slayer and The Scarecrow. All were dead within the year.
One Marvel super-villain from the Sixties that’s very unlikely to be revived is the laughable Doctor Weird from The Fantastic Four In The House Of Horrors. (He’s a “mad magician” who’s - as you’d guess - somewhat “weird”.) The Fantastic Four In The House Of Horrors was a Big Little Book, written by one William Johnston and aimed at a decidedly pre-teen audience. Camp aside, its main appeal now lies in the art of Herb Trimpe and John Verpoorten, who managed a serviceable homage to the Kirby/Sinnott art that was then featuring in what was still arguably Marvel’s flagship title.
"Think of it now - the BEST OF THE MARVEL AGE is ready to be yours on a set of GIANT 12" X 19" COLOR POSTERS! …. Each has been selected from over a decade of graphic achievements for its historical importance …. or its artistic merit - every one a masterpiece of comic book excitement." (Ad from 1975’s Mediascene #11) It’s odd that more than half the choices were originally on sale in 1968, the year that the likes of Alan Moore have often associated with the collapse of the company’s original energy and appeal. Even odder from the perspective of 2014 is the lack of anything by Steve Ditko or Neal Adams. With thanks to the Grand Comics Database for the scans, and with the admission that my own choices will be posted here soon, here’s the selection made by Jim Steranko’s Supergraphics company;
The Incredible Hulk # by Jack Kirby & George Roussos
The Avengers #4 by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
The Mighty Thor #127 by Jack Kirby & Vinnie Colletta
Sgt. Fury #50 by Dick Ayers & John Severin
Sub-Mariner #1 by John Buscema & Sol Brodsky
Daredevil #44 by Gene Colan
The Amazing Spider-Man #65 by John Romita
Nick Fury Agent Of SHIELD #6 by Jim Steranko
Silver Surfer #3 by John Buscema
Fantastic Four #82 by Jack Kirby & Joe Sinnott
Captain America #111 by Jim Steranko
Conan The Barbarian #4 by Barry Windsor-Smith
"As I lay awake praying in the early morning I thought I heard a sound of distant bells. It was an intense blast. I sat down in my bath upon a sheet of thick ice which broke in the middle into large pieces whilst sharp points and jagged edges stuck all round the side of the tub like cheveaux de frise, not particularly comforting to the naked thighs and loins, for the keen ice cut like broken glass. The ice water stung and scorched like fire. I had to collect the floating pieces of ice and pile them on a chair before I could use the sponge and then I had to thaw the sponge in my hands for it was a mass of ice. The morning was most brilliant. Walked to the Sunday School and the road sparkled with millions of rainbows, the seven colours gleaming in every glittering point of hoar frost. The Church was very cold in spite of two roaring fires."
from the diary of Rev. Francis Kilvert for Christmas Day 1870.
(Marvel Comics Christmas card by Marie Severin, 1965)
There’s a double-page spread of Modok’s lab in this week’s edition of the Marvel Fact Files. Though most of the part-work’s pages are profoundly disposable, I do have a weakness for their cutaways. Some of them are hilariously poor - Moon Knight’s jet, Cyclop’s visor - and some are a great deal of fun. Into the latter category falls the depiction of Modok’s lab, from which I learned, amongst other things, that "Like all successful evil organisations, A.I.M. has regular board meetings". Though my scanner isn’t up to reproducing the spread as one shot, what follows might make Modok’s fans - surely you’re one? - smile;
"Science is a maw, or headless and limbless stomach, an amoeba-like gut that maintains itself by incorporating the assimilable and rejecting the indigestible …" - Charles Fort
"A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."
(Panel by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby et al, from 1962’s Tales To Astonish #27.)