Saturday, February 22, 2014

MY FAVORITE COMICS - Captain America #169-176 "The Secret Empire Saga"

  When I was a kid, american comics reached me via brazilian translated editions. Usually these compiled two or three of the original editions in a single comic with somewhere between forty to eighty pages. Such was the format under which I got acquainted with Captain America and what later came to be known as "The Secret Empire Saga". Again, as when I first discovered Spider-Man comics, I was perplexed. Here was a story where apparently the hero kills a man and becomes wanted by the authorities! This was too much for my small child mind. I still remember that I couldn't quite understand what was going on but it certainly was disturbing enough to pick my curiosity and make me to want to learn more. And what can I say of Sal Buscema's electrifying art? Its energy, exaggeration and dynamism were the perfect complement for the paranoid feeling of these comics. To this day, his depiction of Steve Rogers - handsome, noble, strong - still is the default archetype male superhero.image I seen in my mind's eye.

Saturday, February 15, 2014


Flash! Ah-Haaaaaa! He'll save everyone of us!

In 1980/81, Queen's song seemed to be omni-present and this kid couldn't get enough of it and of that year's hero - Flash Gordon! I had seen the movie, had a Flash Gordon rubber figure, was following the gorgeous comic adaptation which was being serialized weekly here and was stuck on tv for "The New Adventures of Flash Gordon" with those delicious Filmation trademark sound-effects.

But what I really tresured most of all was this big sized book collecting an Alex Raymond story with Flash Gordon's adventures in the Undersea Kingdom of Mongo in black and white - It was breathtaking! Forget the film, the soundtrack, the action figures, the animation or the followers, Raymond's art was beyond all that and beyond my wildest child fantasies. It had the verve of the romantic ideal taken to its ultimate level - the streamlined shapes of a dynamic future that never came to pass mixed with the primitive textures of a past that never was! It was pulpish and yet stylish! It was the best of both worlds in one... and it still is.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

MY FAVORITE COMICS - The duck comics of Carl Barks

The work of the genius that was Carl Barks was a huge part of my comic book reading as a child and its effect still ressonates within me to this day. He was the first cartoonist whose artstyle I instantly recognized. His stories were so much better than most of the Disney stuff that I usually only bought the issues with his work. The world he created was so complete, his characters so lifelike and his stories so much fun to read that I can't pick up a favorite. In the early years between the time I could only grasp the meaning of books through pictures and the period where I was finally able to read properly, Disney comics ruled my world - they were cheap and accessible, available at any newsagent, therefore dominating most of my reading diet during those days.

There were tons of comics back then. You went to any newsagent and they could have a whole wall devoted to comics... and most of those were brazilian editions featuring Disney characters - Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Goofy... and Uncle Scrooge.

Back then, I was simply interested in having fun, so the stories came first. The best, in Disney comics, almost invariably came on Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge stories. Slowly, I started to recognize a pattern, a way in which these particular stories I found so appealing were superior to all others - it was the way Uncle Scrooge, Donald and his nephews were drawn, as if they were alive; and the world in which they lived, as if Duckburg really existed somewhere; and the adventures they had, with references to stuff I might hear about on tv ... Whenever I was allowed to get a new comic, I'd first look inside and check which one brought stories by the "good" duck artist - that'd be the one I get!

Then, onde day, Editora Abril, the publisher responsible for the local translated editions, released a thick, 200 page edition dedicated to Carl Barks and I was finally able to put a name and a face along with the comics. These weren't the work of Walt Disney. These weren't the work of some committee. These were the work of one man: Carl Barks. Thank you, Mr. Barks!

Saturday, February 01, 2014

MY FAVORITE COMICS - Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera #3

Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera #3 This one has everything but the kitchen sink! I've had a lifelong fascination with time travel stories and I suspect this one might be at the origin of that particular taste. This comic represented a great deal to me as a kid - I can still remember getting into a fight with a cousin over this issue! I loved the huge colorful cast mixing characters like the Blue Falcon side-by-side with Yakky Doodle. Also, one of its sequences, drawn (I suspect) by the underrated Dan Spiegel, takes place on an actual comic book convention!