Happy Labor Day, everyone! "Workers of the world unite!" or something like that...
Who likes BIG comics? I like BIG comics! Whether it was the Marvel Treasury Editions, the DC Limited Collectors' Editions, or the more recent collaborations between Alex Ross and Paul Dini that told wonderfully large tales of Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Captain Marvel, and the JLA, these big books are just cool! So without further ado, some of the big books in my collection --
Marvel Treasury Editions:
First off, to really do justice to the topic of large comics, you need to head over to http://www.treasurycomics.com/ and see what those folks have going on. Really cool website with lots of scans and some background information as well.
Anyway, I don't exactly recall, but the book to the right may be the first treasury edition I ever owned. And what a way to start -- two iconic characters, fine art by Ross Andru, and a believable (although formulaic) meeting between Spider-Man and Superman. As a kid I was not a fan of Superman at all -- Superboy, yes -- but I loved Spider-Man in his own book as well as Marvel Team-Up. When this book came out, Andru was still drawing Amazing Spider-Man, so the continuity, ie the look, of Spidey was seamless for me. It was only later that I learned that Andru had previously pencilled the Man of Steel, so his election as lead artist was logical. It was also much, much later that I learned of some of the corrections that were made by Curt Swan and John Romita to leave each company's character with their most-identifiable visage. I do not own, nor have I ever even read, the second Spider-Man/Superman team-up, nor the Batman/Hulk team-up. I did at one time own the Teen Titans/X-Men crossover, and of course the JLA/Avengers mini-series is a classic. But this was the granddaddy of them all!
Perhaps the earliest Marvel Treasury Edition I can remember seeing on the shelf was #7 featuring The Mighty Avengers. It was seen by my little eyes while at the grocery store with my mom. I was fascinated by this huge book and its contents: Avengers #'s 52, 57, 60, and 83. I had never seen the Vision or Goliath drawn with that much power and even majesty. At around the same time as this was on sale, Big John Buscema had returned to pencil the monthly, and leafing through this book was my introduction to his first masterful run on the book. Alas, the $1.50 price tag was apparently a bit too hefty on that trip and I was forced to do without that wonderful tome.
I asked our babysitter to buy me Captain America's Bicentennial Battles -- it was at a really cool old-school drug store. I don't think they even sold comics, but I remember seeing this on the magazine stand. I was aware of Jack Kirby mainly through the FF reprints in Marvel's Greatest Comics. That stuff was great! However, his art at the time in the pages of Captain America & the Falcon was something different altogether. And this book was not much different than that. Sure, as I've aged I've really come to appreciate the King; but this book wasn't a fun read even at the time. I'm afraid, and this may be heresy, that the King was well past his prime when he created this story.
The book that started it all, The Spectacular Spider-Man, showcases some nifty Stan Lee collaborations with Steve Ditko, John Romita, Ross Andru, and Gil Kane. It's really a nice survey of the character through the years, but I'd argue that the first appearance of the Green Goblin from ASM #14 is the most significant reprint. Also included is the "Birth of a Super-Hero" story from ASM #42 which features the famous introduction panel of Mary Jane Watson -- "Face it, Tiger... You just hit the jackpot!" I believe I bought this at a garage sale; you can see from the photo that my copy is a little dinged-up.
I guess I should say at this point that what is really appealing to me about comics in this format is the large page/panel size. For a story with fantastic art, and I'd argue that just about anything from Buscema's Silver/Bronze Age output qualifies, the opportunity to see it "twice up" is wonderful. By the way, "twice up" is a reference to a term used to describe original art pages that were drawn on 12x18 board as opposed to the smaller 11x17 size.
The final exhibit (I guess I have around 20 of these treasury-sized books, DC and Marvel included) I'll offer today is Marvel Treasury Edition #21, which reprints Fantastic Four #'s 120-123. It's a four-part epic featuring at first the air-walker Gabriel and later Galactus and the Silver Surfer. I'd argue that the cover to the right is every bit as iconic an image as Kirby's cover to FF #49 way back in 1966 (although I think I'd have made Reed's legs longer in the latter image -- he looks a little funny to me).
The interiors are no less spectacular, with Joe Sinnott's smooth inks just weaving that continuity no matter the penciller.
Of course both publishers from time-to-time publish books in this format, more by DC than Marvel, but the cost of them has become somewhat prohibitive at $10-12. You may also complain, or hear others comment, that these types of books are very hard to store. Storing them flat isn't the best idea, but it's difficult to find a space where they can stand up. And bagging/boarding them? Forget that, my friend! I am lucky enough that I have custom-built shelves in my comic room that allow these wonderful memories to stand upright. I'm glad I had the foresight to ask the contractor who finished our basement to build them so they can accommodate these.
BONUS -- more Marvel Calendars images!
A few weeks ago I discussed the calendars that Marvel published in the mid- to late 1970's and on into the next decade. I showed you some images at that time (you can check it out here: http://bronzeagebabies.blogspot.com/2009/08/doug-says-check-out-some-of-my-stuff.html), and now I'd like to lay a few more on you. Enjoy!!
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