I forgot to update yesterday, so Matt Feazell week concludes with a double dose of minicomics: an instalment of The Death of Antisocialman and the impressive Understanding Minicomics, which both riffs on his friend Scott McCloud’s better known book and is a genuinely useful instruction for creating minicomics.
Matt Feazell week continues with a mini-comic called Board of Superheros, made up of characters like Boardman and Stickboy, The Human Fence, Lone Shark, and of course, Cynicalman.
Scott McCloud’s ZOT! was a beloved “thinking man’s superhero” title in the 80s that ran for 10 colour issues, took a break, and returned to complete its 36 issue run in black and white. In between, McCloud and Matt Feazell conspired to produce this mini-comic where Feazell’s Cynicalman gets transported to the parallel universe where the Zot! characters lived. Presumably as a way to relieve some deadline pressure from McCloud, the “Zot in Dimension 10 1/2” feature appeared in many issues of the black and white run afterward.
It’s Matt Feazell week! Long before anyone ever heard of XKCD, Matt Feazell was publishing mini-comics about his assorted stick figure characters, the best known being The Amazing Cynicalman. Feazell has been so prolific and creative that he became known as the Kirby of mini-comics. His flagship title, Not Available Comics, is shown here.
Feazell has had some mainstream publishing credits as well, including a full-sized comic called Ant Boy! for Eclipse, and a long-running backup feature in Scott McCloud’s great title Zot!, in which McCloud’s characters had adventures in stick figure form. I’ve not had the pleasure meeting Matt Feazell in person, but did have a nice long chat with him on the phone once after he put his number in a panel of that book. I wonder how many other calls he got?
It was not unusual when I was growing up to see special Christmas editions of Archie comics, usually called something like “Archie’s Christmas Stocking” featuring pictures of Betty and Veronica in matching short Santa outfits. But this is unusual: an Archie treasury edition. Treasury editions were published frequently in the 70s and early 80s by Marvel and DC, mostly reprinting popular stories at a larger size (think of an early, much cheaper Absolute volume) and sometimes telling a new sensational tale, like the infamous Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali. For some reason Archie decided to get in on the action once for this set of Christmas reprints in 1975, opting afterward to flood the supermarket rack with smaller digest reprints.
You can read much more about treasury editions at this lovely site.
Archie week continues with the first issue of a digest devoted to the other group of superheroes published in Archie comics - the ones populated by alternate versions of the Riverdale gang themselves. Archie was called Pureheart the Powerful, Jughead was Captain Hero, Reggie was called Evilheart, Betty was called Superteen, and Veronica was just rich I guess. This was one of the many alternate realities invented for the gang, and probably the most enduring.
I remember watching the Everything’s Archie cartoon as a kid in the early 70s, produced by the Filmation company that seemed to be making half of the cartoons on Saturday morning (the other half were by Hanna-Barbera). The voice acting was bizarre, the animation was repetitive, the stories forgettable, but the show was apparently popular enough for this tie-in paperback, which reprints a bunch of black and white stories about The Archies. The remarkable bit is that the first story has The Archies visit Filmation and meet the executives in charge, naturally causing mayhem at the studio.
Archie week continues with a 1966 paperback collection of some of their superheroes as written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, who was cranking out stuff like this instead of retiring wealthy on royalties as he should have been. As you can see from the cover, the heroes were being played for “high camp” laughs, undoubtedly due to the success of the Adam West Batman series and The Green Hornet. Archie’s regularly-rebooted line of superheroes, collectively called The Mighty Crusaders, include The Shield, The Web, Fly Man (later rebranded as The Fly), and Steel Sterling. DC licensed some of the characters in the 90s and has since absorbed them into their post-Final Crisis universe.
This book is pretty painful to read, as it was written with the intention of being silly and campy but it just comes off as kind of desperate. There was some decent artwork at least, by the likes of Mike Sekowsky and Joe Giella.
It’s Archie Esoterica week! You have probably heard about Archie marrying both Betty and Veronica in the new Life With Archie title, showing how each of those paths would turn out; I believe there is a third storyline where he marries Valerie from the Pussycats. But did you ever imagine that he would marry Big Ethel?
That’s what Big Ethel envisions on the cover of one of the wacky Christian comics written and drawn by 70s Archie mainstay Al Hartley, who got permission to use the characters in these comics published under an imprint called Spire. I suppose the intent was to rack them side by side with non-proselytizing comics and hope people didn’t notice?
The actual content of the comic is pretty innocuous, a series of Ethel-focused stories in which she conducts a personal inventory, concluding that something is missing in her life. Fortunately, Dilton Doiley recognizes her dilemma and sets her on the path to righteousness.
I have never been a great fan of comics with a heavy-handed agenda, but Hartley’s Spire comics are actually pretty decent - especially compared to the hateful stuff that Jack Chick used to crank out.
Anthology and collaboration week wraps up with Mine All Mine, a 2008 minicomic where all of the short stories are written by David Hopkins, dealing with the theme of stealing. Artists include ZeeS, Chad Sell, Joe Eisma, Cal Slayton, Ryan Cody, and Wes Molebash.