gerry conway

…And So Enters the Amazing Spider-Man

Stan Lee – Editor

Gerry Conway – Writer

Gene Colan – Artist

Cover Price $0.15  (Purchase Price $4.00)

This comic is a perfect example of a Marvel Comic.  This issue hits every Marvel note of the period.  We’ll start with the cover and it’s great use of the Daredevil red to give the cover just enough pop against the mostly light blue background.  The cover artwork is an entire Marvel story itself.  Three heroes; two locked in battle and one in need of help.  A pair of mighty Marvel alliterations and a glorious bottom banner listing the guest stars completes the cover.  Color, action, and bombast all crammed into one panel that made me frantic to find out what is going on.  Sal Buscema hit a home run with this cover.

Once inside the comic I am treated to Gene Colan at his best.  Gene delivers the great NY skylines with our heroes swooping and tumbling through the gaps and over the rooftops.  Heroes are given a few pages to stretch out and whine to themselves.  Against the artwork Gerry Conway channels his best Stan Lee to layer in dialog that could’ve come straight out of a Romance comic.  All three heroes (Daredevil, Spider-Man, and Sub-Mariner) are coping with some sort of romantic loss and heaps of self-doubt.  It’s this juxtaposition of sappy dialog and sweeping visuals that defined Marvel comics.  Inside the inner dialogs we, the reader, get glimpses into our heroes’ mind and heart that no one else ever does.  That’s the hook.  Everyone knows Superman, only I really know Spider-Man and Daredevil.  Marvel manages to make the reader feel connected to the stories instead of being only an observer.

 

Once our heroes meet up they of course fight each other.  An outside force has arrived and confused the heroes and public.  During the hero battles each character is also fighting themselves on the inside.  For these stories to work you can’t break the panels too often and so Marvel used the top half of pages 12-13 to keep the story going unbroken and allow for some advertising space.  I found this less distracting then I thought it might be.  It seemed to me that more time and attention was spent on pacing and page breaks in the page layouts here than I see in many of today’s comics and the series of splash pages that mascaraed as storytelling.

Of course there are some groaners in this book too.  It is over 40 years old so not everything holds up.  The mystery that brings the heroes together is a golden tear dropped energy portal.  It hovers and scares people until it opens and a mystery woman appears from inside.  Then Spidey and Daredevil both climb inside and disappear.  The story felt proto-Beyonder and the hovering “teardrop” looks too much like a floating vagina for my taste.  This of course led to all the wrong associations with the plot points and visuals on the page.  The issue finally ends on a sad and lonely note, the unanswered/missed phone call followed by Next: Beware the Bull!  I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry.  One other nit pick, when did Mary Jane Watson ever have blonde hair?

In the end for $4.00, the cost of a current comic, I was treated to a slice of Marvel history.  This issue also contained Bullpen Bulletins and a Stan Lee Soapbox that discussed word balloon use on comic covers, interesting stuff considering the cover of this book.  The letter page started with a very detailed critique that named names and made recommendations for changes by a J.A. Salicrup, is this a young Jim Salicrup?  Jim started as an intern and then worked his way up editor at Marvel in the 80’s and 90’s.   I’ve spent more money and gotten less enjoyment from more comics than I care to list but this bronze aged gem delivered extra innings for the same price.

The Midwest region enjoyed back to back comic conventions last weekend!

The first annual Akron Comicon, held at Akron University in the city of the same name, preceded the Pittsburgh Comic & Collectible Show in Century III Mall by one day.

We live in the midst of a golden age of comic conventions, where national shows like San Diego, C2E2, and NYCC have grown so much that they’ve divided their focus between comics and other subjects such as Hollywood movies and video games to attract more attendees.  The stage has been set for regional promoters to step up to the plate and offer fans an opportunity to gather and meet their heroes locally.

Akron enjoyed notable guests such as Norm Breyfogle, who recently drew parallel storylines where Archie married longtime sweethearts Veronica and Betty; Darryl Banks, creator of Green Lantern Kyle Rayner; Tony Isabella, creator of Black lightning; Gerry Conway, creator of the Punisher; and Mike Barr, creator of Damian Wayne (in a roundabout way).

The Hero Initiative’s Fantastic Four #600 Project trade paperback collection of sketch covers debuted at this show.  Hero, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping comic creators in need, raised nearly $2000 selling it and other items such as prints.  The Hero Initiative is a great presence to have a convention and they’re always worth checking out.

Marc Sumerak, Marvel writer and editor, gave a fun presentation on the process of creating a comic book.  Audience members delighted in listening to his thoughts on the modern full script writing style versus the classic method of conveying stories to an artist by plots only.  He then showed the audience the full script method in action as he took them step by step through the creation of a selected page from an issue of his Wolverine/ Power Pack mini-series, script to pencils, to inks, to colors, and to lettering.

Sunday’s Pittsburgh Comic and Collectible Show in Century III Mall was sponsored by longtime mall anchor store New Dimension Comics.  It was in an open area directly across from the store’s new location in the mall.

Ron Frenz was on hand sketching and signing for those brave enough to reminisce with him about when Superman used to wear his trunks on the outside.  Mr. Frenz’ current work includes a run on GI Joe: A Real American Hero interiors and covers with Larry Hama at IDW.  Frenz is also doing layouts for a slew of new 52 titles including Team 7 with fellow Pennsylvanian Justin Jordan writing and Brazilian Jesus Merino on finished art duties.

Tom Scioli, promoting the recent hardcover release of his creator-owned American Barbarian, used this appearance to make the convention debut of a new ballpoint pen drawing style that he’s been experimenting with recently for effects in the upcoming Godland #37, the final issue.  When asked about the reason he chose to work with the new tool, Scioli said he loves the way that the initial line work, often drawn in pencil and erased when inks are applied, can be used as part of the final piece and is in full color, as he uses a tool with the versatility to switch colors.  Tom’s new webcomic is called Final Frontier and can be found at www.ambarb.com.  This reporter’s personal favorite part of this show was seeing industry veteran Ron Frenz give accolades to indie hero Tom Scioli about the new American Barbarian hardcover and personally purchase a copy.  Congrats Mr. Scioli!

Both the Akron Comicon and the Pittsburgh Comic & Collectibles Show shared a fan friendly atmosphere that created a place where shoppers and art collectors spent time alongside Hero Clix gamers and Cosplayers without crowding each other out.  Don’t miss the next one, these shows were great!