The Blonde Phantom is TOT's official pin-up queen, but CANDY is our official pin-up teen and she rejoins our cover rotation with her second issue [Winter, 1947]. If you'd like to see the cover of her first issue, go here:
Published by Quality Comics from Autumn, 1947 to July, 1956, CANDY ran a healthy 64 issues. As with the Blonde Phantom, I have never read an actual Candy story. I found a gallery of her covers on the GRAND COMICS DATABASE [www.comics.org] and took a liking to them. It was like at first sight.
In the world of 1950s teen girls' comics, Candy defied the norm. Whereas most of the characters starring in these comics (such as Marvel's Patsy Walker) were gentle and generous, Candy O'Connor was brash, sassy, and used to getting her way. Moreover, her boyfriend, Ted Dawson, had more in common with Archie than with the Best Man on Campus types so prized in teen romance comics. Only her rival, Cornelia Clyde, played true to type: a spoiled rich girl who tried to spoil Candy's life through guile and the expenditure of her oversized allowance.
Candy made her debut in POLICE COMICS #37 [December, 1944], between the covers - of that ish - with Plastic Man, Manhunter, the Human Bomb, Flatfoot Burns, and the Spirit. She continued in the title up to and including issue #102 [November, 1950]. With issue #103, Candy, Plastic Man, and the rest were gone, replaced by tales of federal agents and police detectives.
Most of Candy's POLICE COMICS stories were written and drawn by Harry Sahle, who also worked for Marvel, Centaur, Pelican, Ace, Hillman, MLJ, and Harvey. Among his better known credits are the Human Torch, Steel Sterling, and the Black Hood. THE WHO'S WHO OF AMERICAN COMIC BOOKS, edited by Jerry Bails and Hames Ware, makes mention of a CANDY syndicated strip circa 1944-1945, but I haven't been able to find any examples of this strip.
Paul Gustavson is listed by the OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE has having art in CANDY's first two issues. I'm going to make an educated guess here and opine that what Gustavson most likely contributed was "Honeybun" tales; that was a strip he wrote and draw for POLICE COMICS during roughly the same period Candy was appearing in the title.
One more note. While researching Candy online, I came across a brief mention of the prolific Gil Kane having worked on the strip in the 1940s. No specific information was given as to circumstance or issues, but, as always, I invite TOT readers to share their own knowledge with me and their fellow readers.
I'll keeping searching for more information on CANDY and also for reasonably priced issues of her comics. In the meantime, watch for more CANDY covers in upcoming TOTs.
BRENT CLARK ROGERS GUIDE TO THE DC UNIVERSE
Every year, comics fan and historian Brent Clark Rogers sends me his massive BRENT CLARK ROGERS GUIDE TO THE DC UNIVERSE [$40], and, every year, I am amazed and impressed by his dedication to the project. The 2005 volume is his sixth edition and it contains the names of over 14,000 DCU folks, as well as hundreds of like entries for teams and groups, worlds, extraterrestrial races, and families. As Rogers wrote in a recent letter:
"Lots and lots of new stuff this year. Need a geneticist for a story? Geneticists now have their own entry. As do actors and actresses, musicians, TV news personalities, and many, many more!"
I realize $40 is a steep price, even for a 716-page book, but, once you hold this tome in your hands and start paging through it, you'll realize how much good geeky fun you can have with it. You can order a copy online by going to:
Rogers sometimes has a table at the Motor City Comic Con. If you're planning to attend that show [May 19-21], you might want to e-mail Rogers to check if he'll be there [firstname.lastname@example.org] and save yourself the shipping and handling costs.
It's tough to rate a labor of love like the BRENT CLARK ROGERS GUIDE TO THE DC UNIVERSE, but whatever points the Guide loses for its price, it gets back by astonishing me year in and year out. It earns four out of five Tonys.
7 DAYS TO FAME
I should wait until I read the third and final issue of Buddy Scalera's 7 DAYS TO FAME [After Hours Press; $3.99] before I review the title. That would be the logical thing to do. Then again, the sooner I tell you about this remarkable book, the sooner you'll be able to enjoy the first two issues yourself.
The first issue's cover angered some readers and reviewers. I can see why. It's a shocking cover, but it does accurately speak to the nature of the story. It's an examination of suicide and our morbid fascination with suicide, taken to the extremes possible in our technological society.
Marc Figliano hosts a live late-night talk show not long for this world. So he changes format, devoting a week of shows to the life of an old woman dying from terminal cancer. They talk about everything - she holds back nothing - and, then, during the week's final show, the woman puts a gun to her head and shoots herself on live TV. In this first issue, Scalera leaves unanswered whether or not Figliano knew this was coming, but also raises suspicion that the talk-show host did know.
Figliano and his producer are unemployed at the start of the second issue, but they're approached by a wildly-successful website to do another live show:
"We want you to get more people to kill themselves, so we can post it on our website!"
Horrific as the events and attitudes in 7 DAYS TO FAME can be, they make for riveting reading. When the second issue arrived, I stopped what I was doing to read it then and there. That doesn't happen often with me.
Scalera's writing is crisp and engaging. The art is solid in both issues - Nick Diaz and John Statema on the first, Dennis Budd and Joe Caramanga on the second - with colorist Wilson Ramos and letterer Chris Eliopoulos pulling the visuals together. The issues contain 30 and 32 pages of story; I call that decent bang for your bucks. That and the quality of these comics is why 7 DAYS TO FAME earns the full five Tonys.
BEST OF THE WEST
I know I reviewed two earlier issues of this title a few days ago, but I happened to read BEST OF THE WEST #55 [AC; $6.95] over the weekend and thought this issue was worth a brief mention here. It's good to be the columnist.
The cover story - "Redmask Vs. the Strawman" - reminds me of early Julius Schwartz-edited Batman tales, sort of Gardner Fox by way of Robert Kanigher. The Strawman is a creepy and smart villain who's definitely a match for the hero. The civilians are less than supportive when Redmask fails to catch his foe right off the bat. The ending of the story leaves the door open for a rematch and, if that rematch was ever shown, I hope publisher Bill Black brings it to us sooner rather than later. Frank Bolle, a favorite artist of mine, drew this adventure.
This issue also has a swell Haunted Horseman story drawn by my pal Dick Ayers, entertaining adventures of Rocky Lane, Tom Mix, and the Durango Kid, and a two-page fact/speculation comics tale with narration by the Masked Rider.
BEST OF THE WEST #55 rates four Tonys.
Reginald Hudlin has acquitted himself well in his first year of writing BLACK PANTHER [Marvel; $2.99 per issue]. He started by tweaking the character, adding a "wow" factor that disturbed some continuity buffs. Me, I loved it, though the title, while still an excellent read, suffered from subsequent-issue crossovers with the X-Men and the House of M event.
Hudlin brought a somewhat lighter touch to BLACK PANTHER #10-12. What he's got going on now is a big, brassy, action-packed, and balls-out fun summer movie in comics form. We have T'Challa looking for a wife, teaming up with Luke Cage, battling ninjas sent by evil genius Fu...ah, make that Han, and meeting great, sometimes wild 1970s characters like Shang-Chi, Blade, and Brother Voodoo. These issues take me back to that decade and the Manhattan theaters I used to frequent. I can almost hear the excited howls and whoops from my fellow aficionados. I cackled with joy when I read these comics. They are simply not to be missed.
BLACK PANTHER #10-12 get the full five Tonys.
COMICS IN THE COMICS
I get a kick out of comic strips that feature characters from other comic strips or comic books. When I find them, I share them with you right here.
Our theme for today is SUPERMAN and our opening example is the SALLY FORTH strip from August 25, 2005:
Michael Fry's COMMITTED panel from September 23 takes a look at the early days of Superman:
The Isabella Brothers Bakery opened its doors in 1916, founded by my grandfather Anthony and his brother Dominic, or "Uncle Mimi" as he was called by everyone in the family. The bakery closed down in 1987 when my father - Louis - retired. In between those years, there were very few Isabella kids who didn't put in at least some time working for the bakery.
As a teen, I worked there on Sunday mornings slicing bread, waiting on customers, sweeping up. Before then, especially during summer, I would occasionally accompany my father on his delivery route. This was to even the odds for my mother who would otherwise be at home with five kids.
One store on Dad's route sold bags of comic books whose logos had been removed, four issues for a quarter. I later learned these were illegal. Local distributors would return the logos of unsold comics for credit from the publisher, but, instead of destroying the books, would sell them to a jobber who would package them and sell them to neighborhood stores. I didn't know this at the time. I saw these comics as a cheap way to compensate for my utter lack of artistic ability.
These were mostly Marvel comics. I'd cut figures out of them, arrange the figures and paste them on notebook paper, and write new captions and dialogue around them to create my own stories starring Spider-Man and other heroes. I deemed backgrounds and supporting characters optional. It was all about the action.
I'm not sure if and when Spidey ever tussled with the Cobra - an early Thor villain - but, in my notebooks, the Steve Ditko-drawn web-slinger battled the Jack Kirby-drawn venom-blaster. I may have destroyed close to a hundred comics this way, but it was one of the ways in which I taught myself how to write comics.
Eventually, I came to recognize the importance of backgrounds, supporting characters, and even plot in writing comics.
That's all for today. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
Please send material you would like me to review to: