Comics writer and Astro City creator Kurt Busiek recently wrote in a Twitter thread that often, younger readers discovering comics typically choose a thicker one as their first foray into the medium. “Young readers may not know the characters well, or care about creators, but they understand ‘more,’” Busiek posted.
He’s absolutely right. My introduction to comics came in a hospital room, as I recovered from a broken arm as a kid. My brother and friends from across the street visited me and gave me three comics. The one that grabbed my attention was Batman Family #19. It offered more content, more characters, more stories, and I couldn’t get enough of these colorful crusaders and criminals. After that, when my mom would take me to corner stores to buy new comics, I gravitated toward DC titles to its Dollar Comics in particular.
It’s with that context in mind that I reveal a couple of the latest acquisitions in my original comic art collection.
Given my childhood affinity for DC’s Dollar Comics, Superman Family was a staple of my comics diet back in the day, so I was thrilled to get a sample of that title in this piece of original comic art.
I picked up this board from Superman Family #194 on eBay recently, and thankfully, it was for a bargain price. I have to admit it’s far from the best piece in my collection. Inker Vince Colletta’s heavy-handed embellishment has always overwhelmed the styles of the pencillers with whom he’s worked over the years, and this is no exception. Furthermore, the backgrounds are lacking here, and the page depicts Lois Lane acting as an action hero rather than a journalist – something that’s always been a pet peeve of mine, given my career as a newspaper reporter.
But there are a lot of reasons that I like this page, such as the craft and the campiness on display. Penciller John Calnan conveys movement quite well in this action-oriented scene, and I love the crudity of the hand-drawn SFX (especially the inherent goofiness of conveying the power of a punch with “CRAM” in Panel 5).
This board also boasts the vintage elements I love to find on a piece of original comic art: editing marks in blueline pencils, whiteout corrections, lettering right on the board, the copyright stamp on the back. I always want to see as much of the creative and publishing process as possible on a board, and this one delivers in that respect.
While this is listed as Page 16 in the lower right corner, that refers only to the story page, and this was the third story in the themed anthology comic. This is actually Page 45, as indicated at the bottom centre of the page (though an editing/publishing mark at the top right refers to it as Page 43).
I picked up another Dollar Comics page from the same buyer in the same transaction. This one is from World’s Finest Comics #254. It’s one of the more unusual boards in my collection, as it focuses on a vehicle as opposed to characters. The Arrowcar is a rather obscure element from Green Arrow’s history, and in the context of this scene, it appears some criminals have highjacked it for a heist. It’s a goofy, campy scene.
Understandably, I also picked up this board at a bargain price; it’s unremarkable, but definitely fun as well. Also, given the focus on the wheels, the influence of Colletta (something else these two boards have in common) doesn’t dominate like it usually does.
Even though it’s far from an iconic scene or the sharpest example of Trevor Von Eeden’s linework, it is a vintage board as well, complete with all of the afore-mentioned old-school aspects I love to see on a page of comic art.
Though marked as Page 7 of this story in the lower right corner, numbering at the bottom centre shows it’s Page 39 of the larger issue (however, a note at the top right refers to it as Page 37).
Over the last few years, I’ve acquired a couple of other Dollar Comics pages before these: Superman Family #216, Page 44, and G.I. Combat #271, Page 25. You can find scans of these and the rest of my art collection in my Comic Art Fans gallery.